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Fellow of the Royal College op Surgeons, of Edinburgh. 


Ex iis quce violentift quaeruntur, alia non possunt oniuino cognosci, alia possunt etiam sine scelere 

— C'ehus 


No. 40 02 - Waijtu t S tu bes. \l%. & I] f J 







Fellow of the Royal College of Surcf.ons, of Edinburgh. 


Ex iis quoe violetitia quieruntur, alia non possunt omnino cognosci, alia possunt etiam sine scelere 

— C'elsus 


No. 1002 Walnut Street. 


The following Essay was written in response .to an offer of 
Two Hundred Guineas for the best Essay on "Painful Experiments 
on Living Animals, Scientifically and Ethically considered." 

The Essays given in were adjudicated upon by seven eminent 
gentlemen, whose names will be found below, and who kindly con- 
sented to act as Judges. They examined the Essays submitted to 
them with scrupulous care, and the result was, that each of three 
Essays had two Judges in its favor as the best. In these circum- 
stances, the seventh Judge did not feel warranted to decide the 
question, and thought it better, with the consent of all parties, to 
divide the award among the three authors, and publish their 


W. A. F. BROWNE, Esq., LL.D , F.R.C.S.E., formerly Medical Commis- 
sioner in Lunacy for Scotland, Crindau, Dumfries. 

ARTHUR DE NOE WALKER, Esq., M.D., M.R.C.S. Eng. ; L.A.H. 
Member of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, 10 Ovington Gardens, 

JAMES COWIE, Esq., M.R.C.V.S., late Vice-President, Member of Council 
and of the Board of Examiners of the Royal Veterinary College of 
Surgeons, London — Sundridge Hall, Bromley, Kent. 

JOSEPH JOHNSTON, Esq., M.D., Surgeon- Major, Army Medical Department, 
3 Lome Terrace, Dublin. 

JAMES GILCHRIST, Esq, M:D., Member Botanical Society, Edinburgh; 
Medical Superintendent of Crichton Royal Institution, Dumfries. 

DAVID JOHNSTON, Esq., M.A., M.D., L.R.C.S. Edinburgh— Kair House, 
Fordoun, Kincardineshire. 

JOHN H. BRIDGES, Esq., M.B., F.R.C.P. London; late Fellow of Oriel 
College, Oxford ; Medical' Inspector Local Government Board, White- 
hall, London. 



A great change of opinion appears to have taken place among 
the medical profession in England on the subject of Vivisection. 
In the Medico- Chirurg 'iced Review for 1842, Mr. Shaw, now (1880) 
the veteran Consulting Surgeon to the Middlesex Hospital, in 
giving a summary of his kinsman's, Sir Charles Bell's, researches, 
thus expressed himself: — "The profession must be well. persuaded 
by this time what a difficult task it is to obtain any uniform results 
by having recourse to experiments on living animals. And it is 
scarcely too much to say that, if physiologists had waited patiently 
till cases occurred in practice, such as have actually been met with 
in very numerous instances, when the pathological phenomena con- 
firmed the views deduced from anatomy, our convictions would bo 
as strong as after all the multiplied experiments which have been 

The words of Sir Charles Bell himself are still more emphatic: — 
" In a foreign review of my former papers," he says, " the results 
have been considered as in favor of experimenting on living ani- 
mals. They are, on the contrary, deductions from anatomy ; and 
I have had recourse to experiments, not to form my opinions, but 
to impress them upon others. It must be my apology that my 
utmost powers of persuasion were lost while I urged my statements 
on the ground of anatomy alone." And again, " Experiments have 
never been the means of discovery, and a survey of what has been 
attempted of late years will prove that the opening of living animals 
has done more to perpetuate error than to enforce the just views 
taken from anatomy and the natural sciences." — (Bell on the Nerv- 
ous System.) 

I have before me a printed circular, signed by thirty-eight 
medical men resident at Bath, which shows what was the general 
feeling in the profession on this subject, at a somewhat earlier 
period. It is dated Bath, February 27, 1825 : — " We, whose names 
are under- written, medical persons, chiefly practitioners, resident at 
Bath, do hereby engage and declare that we will, as far as in us 



lies, prevent and discourage by our example, influence, and dis- 
suasion, those painful and cruel anatomical experiments upon living 
animals, which to the disgrace of science, in our opinion, are made, 
sometimes without necessity or utility, and frequently without any 
adequate end, under the plea of promoting medical knowledge. 
. . . We do thus protest against and reprobate such conduct, 
esteeming it wholly unwarrantable and discreditable to our 

In the journal already quoted — the Medico-Chirurgieal Review 
(vol. xxxvi), new series — at that time the leading organ of the pro- 
fession, the editors, after giving some account of M. Longet's 
experiments, says : — " We cannot conceal our abhorrent dislike of 
what the French call Vivisection, in which unoffending brutes are 
made the victims of the most shocking sufferings, all with the view 
of advancing science ! " More is said, in a tone of earnest indigna- 
tion, with which the majority of readers in those days, no doubt, 
heartily sympathized. 

Even so recently as 1866, when prize essays on Vivisection were 
published by the " Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to 
Animals," the author of one of the essays, Dr. Markham, Physician 
to St. Mary's Hospital, London, while not denying the abstract 
right to make experiments, nor their occasional utility, observes : — 
" I need hardly say that courses of experimental physiology are no- 
where given in this country; and that my remarks, consequently, 
apply only to those schools in France, and elsewhere, where such 
demonstrations are delivered." 

In the few years that have since passed, the practice of vivisec- 
tion has not only greatly increased in this country, but seems now 
to be regarded with altered feelings by a large part of the medical 
profession. There were always some physiologists and surgeons 
who thought it right to use this method of investigation ; but their 
researches were quietly conducted, and not with ostentatious pub- 
licity, as in Paris and other Continental cities. The whole tone of 
English professional opinion was against such experiments. English 
medical students would have revolted against such exhibitions 
as were customary in foreign schools. But a change has been 
gradually coming over the spirit of the profession. Courses of 
'•' demonstrations in animal physiology " are given in various med- 


ical schools. "Handbooks" are published for the use of pupils 
in " physiological laboratories." The extent to which this mode of 
investigation, so recently introduced, is carried on will never be 
fully known; but it is already so far a department of study and 
education that physiological laboratories, like anatomical class- 
rooms, are under legal regulation and official inspection. 

The tone of the medical press, which may be supposed to repre- 
sent professional opinion, is also very different from what it used to 
be. To give but one instance — an article in the British and 
Foreign Medico- Chirurgical Review, for April, 1875, a journal 
holding a position analogous to that of the old Medico- Chirurgical, 
not only advocates the free practice of vivisection, but deals with 
objections to it as arising only from ignorance or fanaticism. The 
tone of the press is communicated to the profession. It may be 
that, at Bath, and at other centres of the Provincial Medical Asso- 
ciation, there may be forty men ready to sign a protest as clear and 
firm as that which we have quoted. But the published proceedings 
of such bodies do not favor this hope. At the annual meeting of 
the British Medical Association, held at Edinburgh, in 1875, under 
the presidency of Sir Robert Christison, an address was delivered 
by Professor Rutherford, of the University of Edinburgh, who has 
attained eminence as an experimenter on living animals. " In 
recent years," said Professor Rutherford, " the teaching of physi- 
ology has made a great stride in this country. Laboratories, duly 
appointed, have been and are being organized. The method of 
physiological instruction has, in most instances, risen from the mere 
prelection illustrated by the diagram, to the experimental illustra- 
tion of the subject. I cannot suppose that any member of this Asso- 
ciation entertains the idea that experiments on the lower animals 
are not justifiable for the discovery of new truth ; but I am aware 
that there are some who entertain the idea that vivisection is not 
necessary when it has for its object the mere demonstration of edu- 
cational principles and facts already known. Those who hold this 
doctrine appear to me to forget that physiology is an experimental 
science, and that no right conception of the subject can be obtained 
unless the students be shown the experiments that are necessary for 
the demonstration of certain facts." 

Professor Rutherford concluded his address by describing numer- 
ous experiments which he had made as to the effects of various 


medicines on the secretion of bile in the healthy dog. His descrip- 
tion of the experiments was illustrated by diagrams, which appeared 
to convey to the meeting a sufficiently clear notion of his researches, 
and certainly in a way less disagreeable than witnessing the experi- 
ments themselves. It was a practical refutation of his own asser- 
tion that seeing the operations was essential to a right understanding 
of them. To these experiments I shall afterwards have to refer, 
but meanwhile have quoted a brief portion of the address for the 
sake of making a few comments. 

In the first place, the Professor asserts that " physiology is an 
experimental science," and that, therefore, experiments on living 
animals must be made and must be exhibited. The fallacy in this 
statement is, that experimental is an epithet here used in a wrong 
sense. "Experimental science" is a synonym for "inductive 
science," or science based on the observation of facts. It is a 
petitio principii to assume that vivisection is necessary to constitute, 
physiology one of the experimental or inductive sciences. 

But passing from this, can it be said with truth that the Insti- 
tutes of Medicine, or Physiology, cannot be intelligently taught 
without the exhibition of experiments on living animals ? Professor 
W. P. Alison, the distinguished predecessor of Dr. Rutherford, 
never made such demonstrations, and he was a man as distinguished 
as a physician as he was successful as a teacher. 

Another eminent teacher in the Edinburgh Medical School, Dr. 
John Fletcher, in the introductory lecture to his course on physi- 
ology and on medical jurisprudence, gave a testimony in direct op- 
position to that of Dr. Rutherford. u None of the functions of 
animals need be seen in action, in order to be perfectly well under- 
stood : they may be abundantly well fancied from preparations and 
representations of the organs engaged in performing them — and 
none, certainly, will be exhibited in action in the present lectures. 

"During many years' experience in lecturing on this subject, and 
in delivering courses of more than tenor twelve times the duration 
proposed at present, I have never yet found it necessary, in a single 
instance, to expose a suffering animal, even to students of medicine 
(who are necessarily, in some degree, familiarized with sights of 
horror), for the purpose of elucidating any point of physiology, and 
I certainly shall not begin now; nor can I refrain from stating my 
belief, that experiments on living animals are much less necessary, 


even to the advancement of this science, than has been sometimes 
imagined. lam perfectly aware how much this plan of " interro- 
gating Nature " has done, in modern times, for every branch of 
physical science; but I am equally persuaded that these advantages 
have been, in general, overrated — at any rate that students, in this 
respect, generally begin at the wrong end, and are often engaged in 
experimenting on animals, in hope of rinding out something or 
other on which to found some new and surprising doctrine, while 
they take no manner of notice of the great number of things con- 
tinually going on in their own bodies, of the rationale of which 
they are ignorant. 

" It was a precept which I learned from my first teacher in 
medicine, the late venerable Abernethy, constantly to remember 
that I carried always about with me the best subject for observation 
and experiment — one the most easily to be consulted, since it was 
quite in my power, and one the phenomena of which should be the 
most interesting to me, since it was with similar beings alone that 
I should in future have any immediate concern; and this precept I 
have never lost sight of. We ought never to forget that the best 
subject for analysis is ourselves, and the most useful contemplation 
that which relates to the most common processes; and that, till wc 
understand all which can be readily understood, with a little reflec- 
tion, about ourselves, and know the rational ia of all familiar 
phenomena, it is preposterous to pore over the warm and quivering 
limbs of other animals, in search of things recondite and compara- 
tively useless." (Introductory Lecture.) 

This testimony of an experienced and successful teacher of 
physiology disposes of the alleged necessity for demonstrations on 
living animals, for purposes of explaining the facts and principles 
of the science. On the same point Professor Owen has recorded 
his opinion in these emphatic words: — U T reprobate the perform- 
ance of experiments on living animals to show to students what 
such experiments have taught the master; whilst the arguments 
for learning to experiment, by repeating experiments on living 
animals, are as futile as those for so learning to operate chirurgi- 
cally." Professor Owen thus expressed his opinion in explaining 
his award in the competition for the prize essay in 1866. 

I have also an equally clear statement of opinion iu a letter from 
my old teacher, Sir Robert Christison. His words are these: — " I 


object to all public demonstrations by experiment on living animals, 
and have always done so." Sir Robert did not utter a similar 
protest before the British Medical Association, though he might 
have taken the opportunity. But there was a good deal of irritation 
at the time, in prospect of legislative interference ; and the profession 
was so far put in a defensive attitude, on account of the agitation 
against vivisection. The consequence was, that Professor Ruther- 
ford's address was received with apparently the unanimous approval 
of those present, and the report of the meeting contains no reference 
to any protest having been made. 

It becomes an important and fitting matter for inquiry how this 
undoubted change in the opinion of the profession on the subject 
of vivisection has been brought about. How is it that so many are 
now advocating this new method of research, instead of keeping in 
the old and safe paths of observation ? 

The change is certainly not due to any notable discoveries made 
in recent years by vivisection, nor any improvements in medical 
practice resulting therefrom. Still, it is interesting to inquire 
why the strong feeling against experimenting on living animals, 
which once honorably marked the profession in England, has 
been weakened ; and why our schools of physiology are assuming 
greater resemblance to the once much-censured schools of the 

In attempting an explanation, I think that several things must 
be taken into account. In the first place, there is the natural and 
laudable desire for the advancement both of medical knowledge and 
practice. The path of progress by clinical and pathological research, 
though safe and sure, involves careful and patient research, as all 
inductive science requires. The numerous and marvelous strides 
made in other departments of practical science during the last half 
century throw into marked contrast the comparatively slow progress 
of medicine. To use the words of Sir James Y. Simpson : — " Ever 
and anon we hear it doubted, by men both without and within the 
profession, whether medicine has made any marked progress at all 
during the period that I speak of. Most of us have heard it broadly 
insinuated that while other departments of science and art have, 
during the last fifty or sixty years, been marching forwards at a 
pace unprecedented in their history, the art of healing has remained 
comparatively stationary." 


To Sir James Simpson's Address "Op the Modern Advancement 
of Physic," delivered from the Presidential chair of the Edinburgh 
Medico-Chirnrgical Society, I shall refer presently. These sentences 
quoted from it express well the too prevalent feeling as to the 
comparatively slow progress of medicine. It is natural that both 
physiologists and practitioners, chafing under this feeling, hail any 
prospect of accelerated progress, and lend a ready ear to the asser- 
tions of those who proclaim that by vivisection they have found a . 
shorter road to knowledge. 

Another influence is to be taken into account in explaining the 
present attitude of the profession. The example of foreign schools 
in their curricula of study has been followed of late years more 
than it used to be in this country. " Demonstrations" in animal 
physiology have been introduced in various medical schools. 
" Physiological laboratories," and other institutions for experimental 
research, have been established and endowed. English as well as 
foreign pupils of Continental laboratories are engaged in giving 
practical instruction to students. Some of these professors and 
demonstrators are Fellows of our own Colleges of Physicians and 
Surgeons, and members of the Senates of our Universities. These 
are men of very different habits and character from some of the 
Continental experimenters, whose proceedings formerly caused 
honest indignation, but whose methods of research they are intro- 
ducing. Through association and fellowship with them, there has 
arisen a strong esprit de corps in the profession, leading many to 
defend their brethren from attacks which have been sometimes 
unfair, and from charges which have been sometimes unjust. 
Knowing that the practice of vivisection was followed in an honest 
and sincere desire for the advancement of science, sympathy has 
been felt for the experimental physiologists, even by many who 
disapproved of their method of research. Expression of this 
sympathy by Medical Councils and Societies has given the appear- 
ance of a general feeling widely at variance with the "indignation 
and abhorrent dislike " expressed by the editors of the Medico- 
Chirurglcal Review, in the passage already quoted, and which 
undoubtedly represented the opinions of the profession at that 

A third and more marked element in the change of opinion is 
the discovery of anaesthetics, and their use in the performance of 


experiments. It is generally supposed that the use of chloroform 
renders impossible the horrible cruelties, especially in French labor- 
atories, the reports of which caused Englishmen to view the whole 
system of vivisection with pain and dislike. The introduction of 
anaesthetics has thus lessened the antipathy and quieted the opposi- 
tion of mauy professional men. But it has at the same time 
diverted attention from the main question, from a scientific point of 
view, whether vivisection is a legitimate method of research, under 
whatever conditions. The object of this essay is to maintain the 
negative, and this both on scientific and ethical grounds. 

It may be well here to clear the way by a few further remarks 
on the use of anaesthetics in vivisection. The phrase, " painful 
experiments," may lead to misunderstanding. In some experiments 
anaesthetics are used, in others they are not used, and, in fact, would 
interfere with the results. In places registered under the Vivi- 
section Act, the use of them is left to the conscience and judgment 
of the licensed operator. The majority of experiments, as of the 
public demonstrations, may be called painless; but vast numbers 
are not so. Many of them extend over long periods of time, during 
which the effect of chloroform has passed off. It is not always that 
the animals are " mercifully put out of pain," as one physiologist 
tells us is the usage at Guy's Hospital. In other London hospitals, 
experiments are on record where the investigations lasted day and 
night for weeks together. The readers of medical journals know 
that animals are often kept alive in a mutilated state, for the repeti- 
tion or variation of experiments. Take but one instance from the 
Handbook of the Physiological Laboratory (p. 403), a demonstration 
upon " Recurrent sensibility : " "This can be shown only in the 
higher animals, the cat or dog being best adapted for the purpose 
The method adopted is this : The arches of one or two vertebrae 
are carefully sawn through, or cut through with the bone forceps, 
and the exposed roots very carefully freed from the connective 
tissue surrounding them. If the animals be strong, and have 
thoroughly recovered from the chloroform, and from the operation, 
irritation of the peripheral stump of the anterior root causes not 
only contraction in the muscles, but also movements in other parts 
of the body, indicative of pain. On dividing the mixed trunk the 
contractions cease, but the general signs of paiu or sensation 


The Blue Book of the Royal Commission on Vivisection contains 
many similar facts. Dr. Klein stated, in reply to question as to 
use of chloroform (3605), " I prefer and use chloral hydrate; but 
as a general rule, for my scientific investigations, I do not use 
chloroform, or any other anaesthetic, except for convenience sake, in 
dogs and cats, and for no other animals, as a general rule." Being 
asked (3631) if he did not perform operations which involved a 
great deal of pain to the animal, the answer was: " Not as opera- 
tions, but in their eventual results, we do occasionally." 

Ah ! it is these " eventual results " that are mainly to be con- 
sidered in this question of anaesthetics. The knife may be used 
while the animal is under the influence of chloroform ; but what of 
the resultant injury and mutilation, and the consequences of the 
experiments? Life, if not destroyed " mercifully," may be made 
miserable for the poor creatures. The words of Dr. George Hoggau 
sound strangely paradoxical at first, but they convey a sad truth 
nevertheless : — " / am inclined to look upon ancestheties as the 
greatest curse to vivisectable animals. They alter too much," he 
explains, " the normal conditions of life to give accurate results, 
and they are therefore little depended upon. They, indeed, prove 
far more efficacious in lulling public feeling towards the vivisectors 
than pain in the vivisected." 

So much for "painless experiments." With few and unimport- 
ant exceptions, I hold that all experiments on living animals — all, 
at least, to which objection is made in this essay — are painful ; 
painful either at the time or in " eventual results," whether these 
be mutilation, disease or death. I hope to show that they are 
scientifically needless and ethically wrong, and that therefore vivi- 
section ought to be discouraged and condemned by the medical 

It may be thought by some that this is an unseasonable time to 
renew or to extend the agitation against vivisection. An Act of 
Parliament, they say, has been passed, as the result of a Royal 
Commission of inquiry, and is now in operation, after being 
accepted, if not approved, by the representative bodies of the medical 
profession. The proceedings of experimenters are under regula- 
tions, imposed by the collective wisdom of Parliament, and with 
Inspectors to exercise wholesome supervision and control. Places 


where experiments are performed must be registered ; experimenters 
must have licenses, either ordinary or special; and reports are 
made by the inspectors. Why not wait to see how the Act 
works ? Such is at present the laissez faire tone of professional 
opinion, and it is largely shared by the general public. 

In opposition to this spirit of indifference, I maintain that the 
sooner and the more fully this matter is discussed the better. And 
this not in the cause of humanity only, but in the interests of science, 
and for the honor of our profession. 

If this new system of research and of instruction is wrong, let it 
not have time to take deep root and to spread in our medical 
schools. To the credit of the profession in Ireland, the programme 
of the practical course of Institutes of Medicine, under the joint 
direction of Trinity College, Dublin, and the College of Physicians, 
concludes with the significant " N. B. — ' Vivisections are absolutely 
prohibited.'" Even if this prohibition is still maintained in 
Ireland, we fear that it will not for some time be imitated in other 
schools. The number of licensed vivisectors may vary from year 
to year, but the names of those to whom licenses are granted are 
kept secret, and the reports of the Inspectors are not open to the 
public. No one can tell the nature or extent of the experimental 
researches, except so far as the operators choose to record them in 
medical journals, as Professor Rutherford has done ; or to bring 
them before scientific societies, as Professor Ferrier has done in his 
Reports to the British Association. The publication of such experi- 
ments is sure to give a fresh impulse to research by vivisection. 

I think, therefore, the time has come for making an appeal to 
the medical profession for a calm inquiry as to the position and 
claims of the system. Enough has been done to bring the matter 
before the general public. There is no fear of the agitation out of 
doors being at an end, although the advocates of vivisection seem 
to think that the licensing of laboratories has silenced their oppo- 
nents. No Act of Parliament can suppress public sentiment on this 
question. It will not be wise in the medical profession to set itself 
in direct and obstinate opposition to this public sentiment. If, on 
the one side, there has been too much unintelligent clamor against 
vivisection, there has been, on the other side, too little of fair 
discussion of the merits of the case. At the same time, a very large 
number of medical men have not committed themselves to the 


advocacy of vivisection. The great majority, I am certain, have 
not specially considered the subject, and have not any feeling beyond 
unwillingness to separate themselves from their brethren, when 
attacks seem to be made on the profession. 

I put the question lately to the senior physician of one of our 
great London hospitals, if he thought vivisection had added any- 
thing to our resources which might not have been otherwise 
obtained, and his reply was that he had not studied the matter so 
as to give an answer. Another physician, occupying one of the 
highest positions in the profession, on my asking him about some 
alleged physiological discoveries, said he must inquire from his 

friend, P. S , naming a surgeon and experimenter of Guy's 

Hospital. In the same way I have tested other medical friends, 
and find they are at a loss to name any practical benefits derived 
from vivisection. They are told that important investigations are 
instituted, and they are unwilling to object to any mode of research 
which is said to give promise of results. Comparatively few have 
personally studied the question ; or have ventured openly to express 
doubt or disapproval. I believe there must be many who would 
be willing to see the system fairly examined, and who would even 
be glad to find that the result of this examination was in harmony 
with public sentiment, and with the former all but unanimous 
opinion of the medical profession in England. 

It is to these men, not committed to the advocacy of vivisection, 
but willing to hear what can be said against as well as for it, that I 
address myself. It would be far more easy to write a large volume 
than a short essay with this purpose. In describing and analyzing 
the reports of physiological laboratories it would be easy to multiply 
proofs and illustrations of the fallacies underlying this mode of 
inquiry, and to point out the contradictory results of different 
experimenters. It w r ould be easy, also, to gather from the records 
of scientific research and medical practice a great mass of observed 
facts and phenomena, establishing all the important conclusions 
which vivisection claims as discoveries. But to enter into volumin- 
ous details or minute arguments would defeat the purpose of this 
essay. The design of the writer is to state briefly but clearly the 
principles of the controversy ; and by showing that vivisection is 
indefensible, on the ground of science as well as of sentiment, to 
urge medical men to re-occupy the same position which was honor- 


ably maintained by the leaders of the profession in England before 
this new invasion from foreign schools of physiology. 

Reference has already been made to the Address by Sir James Y. 
Simpson, on " The Modern Advancement of Physic." It is a bright 
and cheering record of progress in the healing art during the first 
half of the present century. If any one doubts whether medicine 
has made marked advance, or is ever despondent as to its prospects 
in the future, let him read that essay, and he will find proofs of 
progress as great and rapid as in any department of knowledge or 
art. It is a retrospect at once instructive and encouraging. The 
enumeration of improvements both in medicine and surgery will 
surprise those who have not considered the state of science and of 
practice at an earlier period than that passed under review. With- 
out going into many details, a few of the results may be noted. 

After the middle of last century the mortality of children under 
five years of age, in London, was above fifty in the hundred. It is 
now not more than from thirty to thirty-five. The saving of life 
by improvement in the hygiene and management of infancy is now 
more than 100,000 human beings a year throughout Great Britain. 
The average mortality at all ages, and especially in towns, has 
remarkably decreased ; and the chances of life have' steadily 
increased. Some of the diseases which were formerly among the 
most fatal in the bills of mortality, scurvy, dysentery, ague, and 
smallpox,are now low in the lists. The treatment of actual disease 
is only one department of practical medicine. The preservation of 
health and the prolongation of life are equally important. These 
objects are attained on the large scale by the prevention of disease 
much more than by its cure. It may be long before specific cures 
are found for other fatal diseases, as effective as those which have 
checked the mortality from ague, scurvy, and smallpox. " But 
does not the history of the past," says Sir James Y. Simpson, 
" encourage us to a bold belief that pur present most fatal diseases 
may, by the advancement of hygienic and medical means, be our 
most fatal diseases no longer? " . . I confess that I cannot but 
entertain an ardent belief that medical science may yet devise 
measures, prophylactic perhaps, rather than curative, to stay the 
great destruction of human life prevailing amongst us from the 
most fatal of these affections — phthisis. Perhaps a more advanced 


pathology and chemistry may yet ere long furnish us with more 
enlightened views of pneumonia and other inflammatory disorders 
than we yet possess, and arm us with more sure and potent medicinal 
weapons and resources agaiust them. We have, from the experience 
of the last few years, every reason to hope that the whole class of 
zymotic diseases will be greatly subdued betimes in intensity and 
violence when the investigation of the physical causes predisposing 
to them, or even actually exciting them, is more fully expiscated. 

"Besides, if by vaccination during infancy, medicine has devised 
means to arrest the ravages of smallpox, may it not yet devise 
means also, by inoculation or otherwise, to arrest the ravages of 
scarlet fever and measles, of hooping-cough, of typhus fever, and 
perhaps of the whole class of non-recurrent diseases ? And even if 
we fail to arrest them, we may possibly find out, for the various 
animal poisons producing these diseases, antidotes as certaiu as 
quinine and arsenic are antidotes against the poison of marsh fever. 

"Let us at least not sit indolently down and argue ourselves into 
the belief that it is impossible to attain such results. The conquest 
of smallpox seemed to our forefathers, a hundred years ago, as 
impossible as the conquest of these maladies can look to any one 
now; and yet we all know that the subjugation of smallpox was 
effected by the genius of one man, and by the devotion of one mind 
to its accomplishment. 

" Some time before Jenuer turned his attention to the subject, the 
learned and accomplished Dr. Mead, the first London physician of 
his day, wrote of the utter hopelessness of the very idea of battling 
with and vanquishing such a formidable enemy to human life and 
happiness as smallpox. He speaks of the possibility of 'a specific 
antidote being found against the contagions of smallpox ; ' that is, 
an antidote ' by which it may be so thoroughly destroyed that, 
though it had been received into the body, it may not produce the 
disease,' as an idea as wild and chimerical as that of alchemy; and 
one, in his opinion, 'outraging the principles and elements of things 
that are so certain and well-established by the permanent laws of 

" These disheartening opinions of Dr. Mead, regarding the hope- 
lessness of ever gaining a prophylactic for smallpox, were published 
in 1747. Before fifty years had elapsed Jenner had both discovered 
and successfully applied to practice the great prophylactic measure 


that lias rendered his name imperishable in the annals of the 
human race. 

" Meanwhile, the prevention of diseases by the methodized 
avoidance of their causes has made a mighty advance during the 
last twenty or thirty years. Where the preceding causes of disease 
have been set aside from special communities by proper sanitary 
arrangements, human life has, in such communities, been prolonged, 
and the physical as well as moral health and happiness of the inhab- 
itants have been correspondingly ameliorated." 

The progress of surgery has been not less marked than that of 
medicine; and Sir James Y. Simpson gives a brilliant enumeration 
of improvements both as to operations and general treatment. In 
operative surgery, the abrogation of pain and suffering by anaesthetics 
has been a wonderful improvement; but an even greater mark of 
progress is the increasing endeavor to heal and to cure, without 
operations, cases and diseases in which operations were formerly 
considered indispensable. More than ever is surgery associated 
with medicine in the object of preservation and cure. And where 
operations are still required, the surgeon knows that, in eight or 
nine cases out often, the risk is not from surgical lesions, but from 
constitutional complications of a truly medical nature. Hence, both 
surgery and medicine are indebted for their progress to the better 
knowledge of principles which underlie every department of the 
healing art. " At the present day," says Sir James, " we can 
scarcely appreciate the vast importance of some of these branches 
of study, and the advantage which a knowledge of them gives us as 
practitioners over the cultivators of medicine half a century ago. 
Nor, perhaps, would it be possible to see and appreciate them in 
their proper value, unless we were actually again deprived of their 
aid — in pathology, diagnosis, and practice — and unless all the 
knowledge and advantages springing from them came to be suddenly 
obliterated and blotted out." 

What, then, are the departments of research which Sir James Y. 
Simpson specifies as having led to the modern advancement of 
physic, and which give hope of future progress ? The first is patho- 
logical or morbid anatomy, a branch of study, in its systematized 
form, almost wholly of modern growth. Secondly, pathological 


histology has opened up a wide field of knowledge concerning the 
origin, character, and courses of different diseases, and diseased 
actions and structures. A third department of research is that of 
pathological chemistry, which has afforded new and important 
information regarding the actual character and nature of disease. 
Along with these three departments of medical science — pathological 
anatomy, pathological histology, and pathological chemistry — the 
practitioner has acquired new means of physical diagnosis, by which 
to detect the presence or effects of morbid conditions in the living 
patient. The use of the microscope, and of various chemical tests 
to the fluid excretions of the body, has helped to improve the 
diagnosis of disease. Nor must we omit the improvements in 
materia medica, whether in the form of the remedies or in the 
methods of applying them, so as to exert their medicinal influence 
upon the body, or upon the different organs or functions of it. 

On all these, and on other points, the essay of Sir James Simpson 
gives gratifying testimony of recent progress, with encouraging' 
anticipations of the future. No physician in our times has been 
more fully acquainted with all the discoveries and researches both 
of English and foreign workers and authors. Yet the address 
contains not one word about experiments upon living animals, not 
one reference to those " physiological laboratories" to which many 
are now looking for new knowledge and power. The eye is directed 
throughout to the researches of legitimate science, and no help 
is expected from the lurid light of vivisection. 

There are many, however, who have a vague idea that the begin- 
ning of all this progress was due to experiments on living animals. 
Let us examine the instance which is always put in the front by 
advocates of vivisection — the discovery of the circulation of the 
blood. It appears in every list of alleged discoveries from this mode 
of research, and would probably be the first mentioned in any con- 
troversy on the subject. When Sir William Gull was asked by the 
Royal Commissioners if he could " enumerate any considerable 
number of therapeutic remedies which have been discovered by this 
process of vivisection ? " the answer was — " The cases bristle around 
us everywhere ; our knowledge of dropsical affections, of pulmonary 
apoplexy, of enlargement of the liver, and the whole category of such 
affections, was due to Harvey's discovery of the circulation." Here 
vivisection gets credited with not only Harvey's discovery, but with 


all the conseqrences of the knowledge of the circulation of the blood! 
But what if this discovery was not wholly due to vivisection? 

It is not necessary, in examining this question, to depreciate the 
claim of Harvey to great renown, nor to inquire how far the dis- 
covery was anticipated by others, or what share they have in the 
discovery. The only point here to be discussed is, " Was the dis- 
covery due to vivisection ? " The Royal Commissioners say that 
" Harvey appears to have been almost entirely indebted to vivisection 
for the ever-memorable discovery of the circulation of the blood " — 
the old and constant reiteration, but with more cautious assertion 
than is usual. 

Harvey himself did not rest his entire claims on vivisection. " I 
remember," writes Robert Boyle, " that when I asked our famous 
Harvey, in the only discourse I had with him (which was but a 
little while before he died), what were the things that induced him 
to think of a circulation of the blood, he assured me that when he 
took notice that the valves in the veins of so many parts of the 
body were so placed that they gave free passage to the blood towards 
the heart, but opposed the passage of the blood the contrary way, 
he was invited to think that so provident a cause as Nature had 
not placed so many valves without a design ; and no design seemed 
more probable than that, since the blood could not, because of the 
interposing valves, be sent by the veins to the limbs, it should be 
sent through the arteries, and return through the veins, whose 
valves did not oppose the course that way." It is probable that 
some vivisectors do not know who Robert Boyle is, or why his 
testimony is of weight, but those who do will not undervalue this 
record of Harvey's own account of what led to the discovery. It 
was Fabricius, of Padua, Harvey's master in anatomy, who pointed 
out to him this arrangement of the valves, but Harvey's genius led 
him to connect it with the various facts of the circulation already 
known to Cesalpino, Servetus, and other observers. To his students 
at Pisa and at Rome, Cesalpino taught the circulation from the 
veins to the right side of the heart, thence to the lungs, and from 
the lungs to the left side of the heart, and to the arteries. The 
astonishing thing is that the complete discovery was so long delayed, 
not that it came when it did. The state of science in England, far 
behind that of Italy before the middle of the seventeenth century, 
caused Harvey's announcements to be received with wondering 


admiration. But he neither began nor completed the discovery by 
his experiments on living animals. He exhibited some points 
already known to Italian physicians, but his demonstrations failed 
to convince such men as Riolan, of Paris, and Hoffman, of Nurem- 
berg. Even Dr. Willis, the biographer of Harvey, admits that 
" he left the doctrine of the. circulation as an inference or induction 
only, not as a sensible demonstration. He adduced certain circum- 
stances, and quoted various anatomical facts, which made a con- 
tinuous transit of the blood from the arteries into the veins, from 
the veins into the arteries, a necessary consequence ; but he never 
saw this transit; his idea of the way in which it was accomplished 
was even defective; he had no notion of the one order of sanguifer- 
ous vessels ending by uninterrupted continuity, or by an interme- 
diate vascular network in the other order." 

It was only when Malpighi brought the microscope into play 
that the visible demonstration was perfect, or at least completed. 
What Malpighi saw in the frog's, foot, Leeuwenhock saw after- 
wards in a tadpole, a bat's wing, and a fish's tail. When colored 
fluids were injected in the dead body, another form of demonstra- 
tion was given. 

Harvey's treatise, "De motu cordis et sanguinis cireulo," beau- 
tifully systematized all that was known at his time, and his experi- 
ments demonstrate some points, but to describe the discovery as due 
to vivisection is an error. It is not possible to ascertain the circu- 
lation or to see it in its entirety in the living body. The very act 
of vivisection renders the demonstration impossible, and the dis- 
covery is due to observation of the dead body, not to experiment 
on the living. We shall continue to hear Harvey's name cited by 
vivisectors, but his own testimony is that he was first led to the 
discovery by anatomical observation, and by reasoning therefrom.* 

Next to the circulation of the blood, the discovery of the distinct 
offices of the anterior and posterior roots of the spinal nerves, and 
the columns from which they arise, is the favorite instance of the 
results of vivisection. It is strange how vivisectors insist on a claim 

* If this discovery were really of such measureless importance (or rather the 
part due to Harvey), we must look to the middle of the seventeenth century for 
the advent of a new era in the resources and the success of the practitioners of 
the healing art. We might expect to find from that date the death-rate wonder- 
fully lessened, and life wonderfully prolonged. Was it so ? 


which Sir Charles Bell has himself denied and repudiated. His 
express statements as to the purely anatomical source of his discovery 
have already been quoted. I have lately conversed on the subject 
with Mr. Shaw, Sir Charles Bell's friend and relative, and the able 
editor and expositor of his published researches. Mr. Shaw tells 
me that Sir Charles invariably spoke of his discovery as due to 
anatomical investigation; that his experiments were performed with 
the utmost reluctance, and were considered by him unnecessary ; 
and that he often referred to the uselessness and cruelty of experi- 
ments on living animals. This is quite in accordance with the 
humane spirit that appears in all the writings of Sir Charles Bell. 
The use of anaesthetics is also often cited as an instance of the 
benefit of experiments on animals. " Surely any amount of suffer- 
ing that the case might have required might have been legitimately 
inflicted upon the lower animals, to secure such an inestimable boon 
to humanity." These are the words of Dr. Carpenter, a humane 
man as well as a distinguished physiologist, and who, Avhen a 
lecturer on physiology, never exhibited experiments on living 
animals to his pupils. Dr. Carpenter, it will be observed, puts the 
case hypothetically — might have been legitimately inflicted. He 
knew that ether, and chloroform, and the anaesthetic uses of them, 
were not discovered by experimenting on living animals, in the 
sense that vivisectors wish the statement to be understood. The 
fact is, that the use of chloroform was the result of an experiment, 
and rather a perilous one, tried by Sir James Simpson upon himself, 
and by his assistant, Dr. Keith, as they have graphically narrated. 
The previous use of ether as an anaesthetic was also the result of 
experiments upon himself by an American dentist. Many experi- 
ments have since been performed on animals ; but the reference to 
anaesthetics, as an argument for vivisection, is an unworthy appeal 
to popular ignorance of the real state of the case. 

Not less futile is the claim made as to the discovery of vaccina- 
tion being due to experiments on living animals. It is well known 
that the discovery was made by Dr. Jenner, from observation. He 
observed that many of the people in the dairy district of Gloucester 
enjoyed a remarkable immunity from smallpox. On making 
inquiries he observed that cows had occasionally a pustular eruption 
on the udder, and that those who milked them contracted similar 


pustular disease on their hauds. He observed that such persons 
enjoyed sure immunity from smallpox. He ascertained that this 
was the general and long-known experience of the country people. 
They had not reasoned on the subject, but they had observed the 
facts which Dr. Jenner now observed, and in consequence of which 
he carried on the inquiry, guided by his superior knowledge and 
indo-ment. He observed that those cows which had their udders 
affected had been milked by persons who had been handling horses 
with the affection known as "grease in the hoof." The two facts, 
ascertained by pure observation, were, that certain persons enjoyed 
immunity from smallpox, and that this immunity was due to the 
action on the system of another virus derived from a pustular 
affection in the lower animals. These observed facts really formed 
the basis of that discovery which has been of such incalculable 
benefit to the human race. The inoculation of a boy with this 
animal virus, instead of the smallpox matter, as then done, supplied 
a crucial instance and crowning test of the success of the theory. 
Here is Jenner's own accouut of this case : — 

" During the investigation of the casual smallpox I was struck 
with the idea that it might be practicable to propagate the disease 
by inoculation, after the manner of the smallpox — first from the 
cow, and finally from one human being to another. I anxiously 
waited some time for an opportunity of putting this theory to the 
test. At length the period arrived. The first experiment was made 
upon a lad by the name of Phipps, in the spring of the year 1796, 
in whose arm a little of the vaccine virus was inserted, taken from 
the hand of a young woman, who had been accidentally infected by 
a cow. Notwithstanding the resemblance which the pustule thus 
excited in the boy's arm bore to variolous inoculation, yet, as the 
indisposition attending it was barely perceptible, I could scarcely 
persuade myself that the patient was secure from the smallpox. 
However, on his being inoculated some mouths afterwards, it proved 
that he was secure. This case inspired me with confidence; and, 
as soon as I could again furnish myself with virus from the cow, I 
made an arrangement for a series of inoculations. A number of 
children were inoculated in succession, one from the other ; and 
after several months had elapsed, they were exposed to the infection of 
smallpox, some by inoculation, others by variolous effluvia, and 
some in both ways, but they all resisted it." 


Let it be remarked here that the discovery was made, and the 
demonstration completed, so that the medical profession adopted the 
practice of vaccination, and the whole civilized world recognized its 
importance and value, before a single experiment had been made 
upon a living animal. A few experiments were afterwards made, 
not by Jenner, such as inoculating a cow with the virus from the 
heel of a horse; but this was not necessary to prove the efficacy of 
vaccination in protecting the system from smallpox. It may be 
said, also, that the inoculation of Phipps and the other patients 
were really experiments, and might have first been performed on 
other animals without risking human life. But experiments on 
lower animals, in this as in other researches, although giving some 
ground for reasoning by analogy, could not be accepted as con- 
clusive. Trial of vaccination, and of subsequent exposure to small- 
pox infection, must, after any number of experiments, have been 
made in actual practice. 

The discovery of vaccination by Jenner, and its adoption by the 
profession, can by no stretch of sophistry be twisted into a fair 
defence of vivisection. Yet we find Sir William Gull saying before 
the Royal Commission on Vivisection (5529, evidence): — "The 
whole theory of vaccination came from experiments on living 
animals." We cannot for a moment imagine that Sir William Gull 
was purposely misleading the Commissioners. The fact of a state- 
ment so unfounded being made by a man so eminent as Sir William 
Gull, proves how little accurate knowledge exists of the history of 
those discoveries on which vivisection rests its claims. Bold asser- 
tions are made, and repeated, till those not familiar with the subject 
receive them as true. Denials and refutations have no chance of 
equal attention. The public press proclaims and spreads abroad 
these statements, but refuses admission to counter-statements, and 
to arguments in disproof of the claims of vivisection. 

" What has vivisection done for humanity ?" This is the title 
of an article which appeared in the British Medical Journal, the 
organ of the British Medical Association, in January, 1875. It 
was at the time when there was considerable agitation, both within 
and beyond the profession, in consequence of the prosecution, of 
some medical men at Norwich, at the instance of the Society for the 
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The case attracted much public 


notice, and the report of the proceedings has been published in 
detail. It is not necessary to refer to it here, except briefly to 
remind my readers of the circumstances of the trial, which led, as 
will be seen, to events of great public importance. 

At the meeting of the British Medical Association at Norwich, 
in 1874, M. Magnan, a French physiologist of high repute, was 
invited or offered to exhibit on live animals some experiments 
demonstrating the effects of alcohol on the system. Dogs were 
fastened down to the operating tables by their heads and legs, and 
then, through tubes inserted into their thighs, absinthe and other 
alcoholic fluids were injected. The operator was assisted by several 
medical practitioners of Norwich, and there were numerous 

An eminent London surgeon was nominated as arbitrator, and 
allowed the experiments to continue; acting, as we are willing to 
believe, against his better feeling and judgment, with a desire not 
to seem to oppose the principle of experimenting upon living 
animals, rather than with direct approval of this particular series of 

The cruel proceedings did not, however, go on without protest 
from some who were present. Mr. Tuffnell, President of the Col- 
lege of Surgeons of Dublin, loudly expressed his indignation at what 
he witnessed, and during one of the operations cut the tapes by 
which the poor victim was bound, and setting it at liberty left the 
place in disgust. On his way out of the house he also set free a 
number of cats which were shut up in a room waiting for being 
experimented on. The great majority remained to see the experi- 

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 
very properly instituted proceedings against the Norwich medical 
men who assisted at the operations, M. Magnan being beyond reach 
of prosecution. At the trial, witnesses described the "groaning" 
of the dogs, their " writhing agony," and in one of them, " epileptic 
convulsions," all which made what was well called a "ghastly 
scene." Sir William Ferguson, being asked at the trial his 
opinion, condemned the whole exhibition as a wanton piece of 
cruelty. The general effects of alcohol on the system are well 
known; and special points, indicated by M. Magnan, could be 
observed in ordinary practice far more certainly than by experi- 


ments under unnatural conditions. The Norwich magistrates agreed 
in the opinion that the experiments were cruel and useless ; but 
eventually dismissed the case, as the offence did not seem to come 
within the meaning of the Act under which the prosecution was laid. 

When the report of the trial appeared in the newspapers, and 
was widely circulated as a pamphlet by the Prevention of Cruelty 
Society, public opinion was deeply moved ; and the agitation 
increased, till parliamentary inquiry was demanded, ending in the 
appointment of the Royal Commission. 

The professional vivisectors and their friends naturally felt 
alarmed at the agitation. If other cases were brought before the 
English magistrates and English juries the results of the trials 
might be inconvenient, and would certainly be discreditable. The 
influence of the medical profession was therefore invoked to shelter 
the vivisectors from prosecution. By active efforts, both with the 
Government and the public press, the anti-vivisection movement 
was, as far as possible, countermined ; and on the appointment of 
the Royal Commission, two members favorable to vivisection were 
nominated, while scientific or medical opponents of the system were 
unrepresented. The influence of the General Medical Council, and 
of various representative bodies and eminent men in the profession, 
was exerted to neutralize the popular feeling against the system. 

The majority of the profession acquiesced in the proceedings of 
the scientific defenders of vivisection, and resented the popular 
agitation, which was made to appear as if it were the result of 
ignorant and fanatical opposition to scientific research. The protest 
of those medical men who knew the real merits of the question was 
overborne. The moderate measures of Lord Hartismere and of 
Dr. Lyon Playfair were scouted, and the influence of the General 
Medical Council and the medical press, of which Mr. Erichsen and 
Professor Huxley were the representatives in the Royal Commis- 
sion, directed the conduct of the inquiry, and led to the Report 
upon which the Legislature passed the present. Vivisection Act. 

The physiological laboratories are now protected from popular 
interference, and experimenters delivered from fear of prosecution 
under Acts previously in force. The only hope now rests in the 
return of the profession to the sounder scientific views which pre- 
vailed before the Continental ideas of physiological study aud edu- 
cation found favor in England. 


The Academy of Sciences at Paris, at the aunual meeting, after 
the Norwich trial, testified its approval of M. Mag nan's researches 
by awarding him a prize of 2500 francs. The opinion of the medical 
profession in England has been divided as to the acquittal of the 
Norwich experimenters, the majority, perhaps, approving, but a 
large number sharing the feeling that such experiments were not 
demanded in the interests of science. In order to strengthen the 
feeling in favor of vivisection the article in the British Medical 
Journal was prepared, to which the attention of the reader is now 
invited. In it we may be sure that the strongest case is put in 
defence of the system, and chiefly on the point of the alleged 
necessity of vivisection for the advancement of physiology. 

The following list of discoveries is given as being due to 
vivisection : — 

1. Discovery of the two classes of nerves, sensory and motor, by 
Sir Charles Bell. 

2. Discovery of the functions (motor) of the seventh pair, by 
Sir Charles Bell. Previously to this discovery, the portio dura was 
often cut by surgeons for the cure of neuralgia. 

3. Discovery of the functions of the anterior and posterior roots 
of the spinal nerves, by Sir Charles Bell. 

4. Discovery of the functions of the anterior and posterior 
columns of the spinal cord, by Brown-Sequard, and others. 

5. Discovery of one of the functions of the cerebellum in co- 
ordinating muscular movements, by Fleurens, and others. 

6. Discovery of the functions of the gray matter on the surface 
of the cerebral hemispheres, as connected with sensation and vo- 
lition, by Fleurens, Magendie, and others. 

7. Discovery of the motor functions of the gray matter covering 
certain convolutions in the anterior part of the cerebral hemi- 
spheres, by Hitiz, Fritsch, Ferrier, Gudden and Nothnagel. 

8» Demonstration of the circulation of the blood, by Harvey. 

9. Measurement of the static force of the heart, and discovery of 
other hydraulic phenomena of the circulation, by Stephen Hales, 
Ludwig, etc. 

10. Discovery that atmospheric air is necessary to the main- 
tenance of life, and that when stupefied by its withdrawal, 
animals may be resuscitated by re-admitting it, by Robert Boyle, 


11. Discovery that atmospheric air by continued breathing 
becomes vitiated and unfit for respiration, by Boyle. 

12. Discovery that the air was not only vitiated but also dimin- 
ished in volume by the respiration of animals, by Mayou, 1674. 

13. Discovery of the relation, as regards respiration, between 
animal and vegetable life, by Priestley. 

14. Great discoveries, by Lavoisier, on the physiology of 
respiration, from 1775 to 1780; namely, that oxygen is the vital 
element of the air, and that animals confined die when oxygen is 
absorbed or converted into carbonic acid, nitrogen being entirely 

15. Numerous facts in the physiology of digestion, observed by 
Blondlot, Schwann, Bernard, Lehmann and others. 

16. The discovery of the functions of the lacteals, by Colin, 
Bernard, Ludwig, and others. 

17. The discovery of the functions of the eighth pair of nerves 
in relation to deglutition, phonation, respiration, and cardiac action, 
by John Reid and others. 

18. The discovery of the functions of the sympathetic system of 
nerves, by Pourfour de Petit, in 1727; Brachet, in 1837; John 
Reid, and Brown-Sequard. 

19. The discovery of the phenomena of diastaltic or reflex action, 
by Dr. Marshall Hall. 

20. The discovery of the action of light on the retina, by Hom- 
green, Dewar, and M'Kendrick. 

21. The discovery of the glycogenic function of the liver, by 
Bernard, Macdonnell, and Pavy. 

22. The discovery of the whole series of facts in the domain of 
electro-physiology, by Matteucci, Du Bois-Raymond, Pfliiger, and 
many others. 

It appears from the evidence before the Royal Commission that 
the article adopted as a leader in the British Medical Journal"wns 
prepared by Dr. J. G. M'Kendrick, Lecturer on Physiology, at 
Edinburgh. In reply to a question by the Commissioners (3878) 
as to what he thought vivisection had done for humanity, Dr. 
M'Kendrick referred to that published article, adding, "AH of the 
facts which were discovered by these investigations now form, as it 
were, the groundwork of the knowledge of all medical men in the 
detection and treatment of disease." At the request of Lord Card- 


well, the Chairman of the Commission, the paper in the Medical 
Journal was put in, and is reprinted in the evidence (3916). 

Being asked if there had been any criticisms on the paper, Dr. 
M'Kendrick said — " I have not seen them myself in any journal ; 
some one told me that he had seen a criticism or some observation 
about it somewhere, but I have no distinct recollection of it. I 
certainly did not see it" (3940). 

Whether any criticism has since appeared I am not aware, but it 
is certainly not from the document being unanswerable, as a very 
brief examination of it will show. 

On being asked if the list of 22 instances of the benefits derived 
to human beings, through the advancement of the knowledge 
of physiology by means of vivisection, include the whole number, 
the reply is : " No. I think that I have mentioned the most 
important which I can remember. I prepared that list with 
very great care at the time, and none besides occur to me at 
this moment." 

Now, let us analyze this very carefully prepared list of discoveries 
alleged to be due to vivisection. 

The first four refer to the discovery of the two classes of nerves, 
sensory and motor, and the functions of the anterior and posterior 
column of the spinal cord, by Sir Charles Bell and Dr. Brown- 
Sequard, and others. 

Here is the old and reiterated assertion, as to experiment being 
the source of what was really due to observation. Dr. M'Kendrick, 
in his evidence, enforced the assertion by an illustration. If, for 
instance, a man was paralyzed on one side of the body, how could 
we tell that the paralysis was due to affection on the opposite side of 
the brain, without knowing that the fibres in the spinal cord cross 
over at the upper part of the cord to the opposite side of the brain ? 
Lord Cardwell very shrewdly remarked that "One would have 
supposed that the crossing of the fibres might have been discovered 
by anatomy " (3879). The answer was, " The practical fact is, 
that it is extremely difficult, I should say almost impossible, to 
trace accurately the course of the fibres in the softer parts of the 
central nervous system." 

Could there be a more unsatisfactory tone of reply ? The decus- 
sation is manifest to the naked eye, and can be traced by the anato- 
mist even in the softest parts when prepared for examination. Sir 


Charles Bell himself never made this objection. The decussations 
have been made still more clear by sections for microscopical 
observation. The examination of the dead body, in cases where 
symptoms had been carefully observed during disease, has 
supplied far more useful and trustworthy facts for diagnosis 
and treatment than all the experiments made by physiologists on 
living animals. 

The same remark applies to all the alleged improvements from 
experiments on the functions of various parts of the nervous 
system, including those numbered 5, 6, 7, 17, 18, in Dr. M'Kend- 
rick's list. It is quite true that many facts and phenomena have 
been very conclusively shown by means of experiment, but it is not 
proved that observation, whether in the living or the dead body, 
could not afford sufficient knowledge for guidance either in the 
preservation of health or the treatment of disease. I maintain the 
sufficiency of facts obtained by observation, even in the practical 
uses of the alleged discovery of diastaltic or reflex" action by the 
experiments of Dr. Marshall Hall. These experiments are con- 
stantly appealed to, especially in arguments for vivisection addressed 
to the profession. For medical men are quite as liable as the out- 
side public to be led away by strong and reiterated assertion, in 
matters about which they have not leisure for personal and careful 

Dr. Marshall Hall's discovery of reflex action, it is said, has led 
to great improvements in the treatment of epilepsy and other nervous 
diseases ; he discovered reflex action by experiments ; therefore we 
must stand up for vivisection against ignorant, fanatical clamor ! 
These are the very words with which a medical man, better known, 
however, as a naturalist than a practitioner, answered my inquiry 
as to what he thought of vivisection. It was no use trying to argue 
the matter with him in a passing talk. The physiologists say 
experiments have revolutionized medical knowledge and practice, 
and Marshall Hall's discovery alone is sufficient to establish their 
position. Is it? Let us see. 

Reflex actions are those arising from the spinal cord, independent 
of the brain, induced by impressions on the branches of nerves, 
even when severed from any connection with the brain. For 
instance, when Mr. Bouillaud, in one of his experiments, had 
destroyed the cerebral lobes of a dog by red hot irons, so that there 


were no longer intelligent movements, still he found that the 
animal shrank when cold water was dashed at it, and withdrew its 
feet when they were pinched. Sir George Burrows gave a less 
repulsive example to the Royal Commissioners (186). A man in 
hospital is supposed to be paralyzed; the nurse tells the doctor that 
he must be feigning, for she saw him move his legs in the night. 
On being asked to move his legs, he remains motionless, and is 
evidently unable, though making effort of will to do so. "But if 
you uncover the bedclothes, and just touch the fellow's foot with a 
feather, he will draw his legs up, and not know that he is doing it. 
That is from an independent function in the spinal cord." This 
very simple experiment of Sir George Burrows is quite as decisive 
as that of M. Bouillaud, or the very horrible experiment on " recur- 
rent sensibility " described in the Handbook for the Physiological 
Laboratory. n 

The truth is, that no experiments at all are needed for demon- 
strating the processes of reflex action, nor do they help towards 
applying the knowledge to practice, although this assertion is made. 
So far from leading to improved treatment of epilepsy, or other 
diseases supposed to be chiefly dependent on the spinal cord, the 
ill-digested knowledge of what Marshall Hall really did and taught 
has led to stupid routine, and contracted views of maladies which 
require most intelligent and varied treatment. This depends, in 
every individual case, upon conditions only to be ascertained by 
careful observation, or what Marshall Hall himself calls "living 
pathology." Apart from his experiments, no medical writer gives 
more shrewd and instructive remarks on the diagnosis and treat- 
ment of epileptic and other nervous diseases ; but these are over- 
looked in the anxiety to quote his experiments in support of vivisec- 
tion. It is not the multiplication of details about the nervous 
system that is wanted, but the wise interpretation of facts ancj 
phenomena already familiar. 

So much has been said about reflex action that I have dwelt 
longer on the point than there was really occasion. With regard 
to other therapeutic or practical benefits, connected with or said to 
have arisen from experiments on living animals, the only one calling 
for distinct notice is " the abandonment of the operation of cutting 
the fifth pair for neuralgia." If this was often practiced one would 
suppose that the inefficiency of the remedy would be ascertained by 


a few operations.* But this statement is intended to convey the idea 
of numbers of people remaining with distracting pain and distorted 
faces, till vivisectors advised surgeons to abandon the operation ! 

With regard to the alleged discovery of the functions of the 
several parts of the encephalon, to the experimental investigations 
of which some hundreds of physiologists have devoted much labor, 
there are very few results universally accepted. If we include 
articles and reports in medical and scientific journals, as well as 
treatises separately published, we have a huge library describing 
such investigations, but the conclusions arrived at would not fill 
one octavo page. There is not a subject in the whole range of 
research about which there are so many vague and so many contra- 
dictory statements. The most recent experimenters seem to be 
going over the same dreary and dismal ground as their predecessors. 
Very few who are not specialists in physiological literature can 
verify this assertion, which I make after comparing the reports of 
contemporary vivisectors, with those of Longet,Bouillaud,Legallois, 
Magendie, and Fleurens. In fact, some of the earlier physiologists, 
especially Tiedemann and Serres, can show results far more worthy 
of attention than the modern vivisectors of France and Germany, 
with all the superior advantages these possess in the use of anaes- 
thetics, and in the appliances of laboratories, such as those of 
Ludwig, of Leipzig; M filler, of Berlin; and Pfluger, of Bonn. 
The earlier vivisectors gave due prominence to results obtained 
from pathology and from comparative anatomy, and did not 
maintain, like our modern physiologists of the vivisection school, 
that " the whole knowledge of the animal system is derived from 
experiments on living animals." 

This was said in evidence repeatedly, with slight variation of 
phrase, by the advocates of vivisection before the Royal Commis- 
sion. So far from such being the case, the remark of Bowman, in 
his standard work on Physiology, commends itself to every unbiased 
mind as true, " Vivisections upon so complex an organ as the brain 
are ill-calculated to lead to useful or satisfactory results." This is 
the same conclusion at which Dr. Pritchard arrived when he said 
that " the results obtained by experiments not only differ from each 

* " Experience has proved that the relief, if any, is but partial and temporary, 
and that the operation may, in fact, be the means of converting simple neuralgia 
into irremediable structural disease." — Miller's "Surgery." 


other in essential respects, but are completely opposed to those 
deduced from the minute and accurate observation of pathological 

The next discoveries (8, 9) include the circulation of the blood, 
and the various researches as to the force of the heart, the velocity 
of the blood, and kindred subjects. Of Harvey's discovery, and 
the proportion borne by vivisection in it, enough has been said. As 
to the experiments on the statics and dynamics of the circulation, 
from those of Hales to those of Ludwig, no doubt many facts have 
been ascertained and recorded, as is the case with all experiments, 
but no new or practical results appear " for the benefit of humanity." 
As to the absolute force of the heart considered as a hydraulic 
machine, and the velocity of the blood, the results of experiment 
vary much, and those of old Stephen Hales give probably as near 
an average estimate as can be expected. But for practical applica- 
tion in medicine the numerous experiments made since the time of 
Hales are quite useless. The force of the heart, for example, varies 
in the animals inspected, and under different conditions; and the 
variations are infinite in different persons, in various conditions of age, 
strength, and state of health. The general estimates may be interest- 
ing as facts for philosophical statement, but are useless with any view 
of applying such experiments to use, in maladies either of the san- 
guineous or nervous system. More useful information can be ob- 
tained by observing the force of the heart as indicated on the delicate 
dial of a balance chair, than from all the experiments of vivisectors. 

From numbers 10 to 14 of Dr. M'Kendrick's list, the discoveries 

» ascribed to vivisection need only to be named to show how futile 
are the claims. No painful experiments on animals were required 
to prove that atmospheric air is necessary for the maintenance of 
life ; nor that atmospheric air, by continued breathing, becomes 
vitiated and unfit for respiration; nor that it is diminished in 
volume by respiration; nor to show the relation of animal 
and vegetable life in regard to the condition of the atmosphere. 
All these discoveries belong to chemistry, and were ascertained and 
proved by facts and occurrences in common life, and observed in 
ordinary course of scientific investigation. The sad tragedy of the 
Black Hole at Calcutta, and the frequent calamities from "choke 

I damp " in mines, proved the effects of vitiated air, without the 
stupid demonstration of throwing dogs into the grotte del cane, far 


less of " experiments " by physiologists. When the interpretation 
of these facts was given, by the discoveries of Priestley and Lavoi- 
sier, it was a triumph of chemical, not of physiological science, and 
entirely apart from vivisection. 

The physiology of digestion comes next (15). Numerous experi- 
ments have been made by Schwann, Bernard, and other vivisectors; 
but all the facts demonstrated by them, and many more, could have 
been ascertained by simple observation, without vivisections. If 
the French physiologists had taken the trouble to attend at the 
Parisian Abattoirs, they could have " experimented " and made 
observations on animals necessarily doomed to death, without 
injuring and destroying needless victims in their laboratories. And 
even in the living human subject opportunities have occurred of 
ascertaining all the processes of digestion, for which cruel vivisec- 
tion of animals has been performed. By such experiments, in 
unnatural conditions of animals, no practical or useful light can be 
thrown on the natural processes of human digestion, in all its 
varieties and idiosyncracies. Abernethy, from observation and 
experience, knew more about digestion, and used his knowledge for 
the benefit of humanity, more successfully than all the vivisectors, 
whose practices he opposed and denounced. 

With regard to the function of the lacteals, a few careful and well- 
directed observations, at the Abattoirs, or at any ordinary butcher's 
slaughter-house, would have served the same purpose as all the 
experiments needlessly performed in the laboratories of Colin, 
Bernard, and Ludwig. Anatomy had long before shown the 
structure and course of these vessels, and their use in regard to 
nutrition was well known to physiologists. In the Museum of the 
Royal College of Surgeons, of London, there is a remarkable series 
of preparations, exhibiting to anatomists the lacteals and the 
lymphatic vessels, and the absorbent vessels of the digestive system, 
injected with size, and vermilion, and mercury. No new demon- 
strations were needed for anatomical knowledge ; and no new 
experiments were needed for the advancement of medical practice. 
Yet this is one of three notable instances which the Royal Com- 
missioners, in their Report, describe as having been " selected for 
them" by Professor Turner, of Edinburgh, "in illustration of the 
extent to which practical medicine has been improved by physio- 
logical experiment " (p. 13). 


The other two notable instances are, "the discovery of the circu- 
lation of the blood " and " Sir Charles Bell's discovery of the com- 
pound function of the spinal nerves." How far vivisection was 
necessary for these the reader is now prepared to judge. It is well 
that, in another part of their official Report, the Commissioners 
say, " We have not thought it part of our duty, the majority of us 4 
not having had professional training, to decide upon matters of 
diifering professional opinion, but we have been much struck by the 
consideration that severe experiments have been engaged in for the 
purpose of establishing results which have been considered inade- 
quate to justify that severity, by persons of very competent authority. 
Cases may not improbably arise, in future, in which the physiologist 
may be disposed to underrate the pain inflicted in the course of 
establishing results which may prove to be trivial or even worthless." 
Dr. Samuel Johnson may be regarded as not a person of competent 
authority, but it is curious that he refers to this very instance of 
the functions of the lacteals in his celebrated paper against vivisec- 
tion {Idler, No. 17). " I know not that by living dissections any 
discovery has been made, by which a single malady is more 
easily cured. And if the knowledge of physiology has been some- 
what increased, he surely buys knowledge dear who learns the use 
of the lacteals at the expense of his own humanity. It is time that 
universal resentment should arise against those horrid operations, 
which tend to harden the heart and make the physician more 
dreadful than the gout or the stone." Dr. Johnson was, at that 
time, the friend and associate of the highest men in the medical 
profession, and would not have thus written if they approved of 

The discovery of the action of light on the retina (20) we might 
naturally expect to find in Dr. M'Kendrick's list, having himself 
contributed some experiments for its illustration. But there are 
few who would admit that practical knowledge on this subject 
depended on vivisection, any more than "the discoveries of the 
whole series of facts in the domain of electro-physiology." These 
discoveries may have " important practical bearings," but the prin- 
ciples on which the practice rests were the result of scientific 
observation, and of researches in which vivisection gave no essen- 
tial aid (22). 

The only remaining discovery is that of the glycogenic function 



of the liver (21). This has been much vaunted as an important 
contribution to physiological knowledge, applicable to improvement 
in medical practice. Mr. Erichsen, as spokesman of the Commis- 
sioners, made the most of it in taking the evidence of Professor 
Turner. " In diabetes it was supposed, not many years ago, that 
the sugar was formed in the kidneys ; it is now known by physio- 
logical experiment that the sugar may be produced by a lesion of 
the nervous system. Claude Bernard has shown that, if a certain 
portion of the brain is injured, you get sugar in the urine; that the 
sugar has nothing more to do with the kidney, and is no more a 
kidney disease, in point of fact, than the purulent expectoration in 
a consumptive patient has to do with the mouth ; that the kidney 
merely evolves it from the system, just as the mouth ejects the 
purulent matter from the lungs?" To which Professor Turner 
replied, "That is the case" (3126). Mr. Erichsen's question was 
evidently framed for the instruction of his non-professional col- 
leagues of the Commission. 

The analogy suggested between the expulsion of diabetic sugar 
by the kidney and of purulent sputa by the mouth was rather a 
strong figure of speech ; but, passing this, it was scarcely right of 
Mr. Erichsen and Mr. Turner to make the Commissioners suppose 
that " not many years ago sugar was believed to be formed in the 
kidneys." As long ago as the time of Dr. Mead, that distinguished 
physician ascribed the diabetic urine to a morbid state of the liver 
and bile. A century ago Dr. Cullen taught that the morbid state 
of the urine arose from the disorder of the nutritive and assimilative 
functions connected with the digestive system. This was received 
by the profession generally ; and the melituria was understood to 
indicate an abnormal result of animal chemistry, one process of 
which, in natural health, was the production of sugar. What 
Bernard showed was, that the formation of sugar in the liver in the 
normal state is so constant that the liver may be regarded as the 
sugar-producing organ. He demonstrated this by numerous 
observations, especially by examining the livers of seven recently- 
dead human subjects. Five of these were executed criminals. In 
three healthy livers he determined the absolute weight of sugar, 
finding an average of 22.03 grammes; while, in the liver of a 
diabetic subject, where death was sudden, from pulmonary 
apoplexy, the amount of sugar was 57.50, or more than double. 


The glycogenic function of the liver was thus demonstrated in a 
legitimate way; and in the Abattoirs he could have performed any 
number of post-mortem experiments, if confirmation or further 
elucidation were desired. 

But, unhappily, Bernard showed the way to experimenting on 
living animals. Pie found that, by pricking or piercing the floor 
of the fourth ventricle of the brain, he could increase the saccharine 
secretion in the liver. In this line of experimentation he has been 
followed by many physiologists, especially by Brunton, Pavy, 
Ferrier, and Schiff. In reviewing these experiments, many of 
which have been painful and destructive of life, I find most con- 
fused and variable results. Those results which seem the most 
certain are such as might be anticipated from the slightest consid- 
eration of physiological principles. Thus, it is announced that the 
activity of the glycogenic function is increased with an augmented 
flow of blood to the liver, such as takes place a few hours after a 
meal. On the other hand, when animals were starved — as by Dr. 
Brunton with rabbits, or by Dr. Wickham Legg by tying the bile 
ducts of cats — no irritation of the fourth ventricle will cause 
glycogen to appear in the liver or the urine. Schiff produced 
diabetes by division of the anterior columns of the spinal cord. 
Dr. Pavy had the same result, by dividing the superior cervical 
ganglion of the great sympathetic; but this lesion also caused 
inflammation of the lung, or pleurisy, so that the animals could 
not be observed for long periods, as Schiff in some cases did. 

Now, all these experiments go no further than to show that the 
normal secretion of sugar depends on healthy action of the organs 
engaged in nutrition ; while unnatural interference with the actions 
of these organs, especially by lesion of the nervous centres by which 
their action is sustained, produces abnormal secretion of sugar, and 
diabetes. This multitude of experiments I regard as unjustifiable 
and needless cruelties, and leading to no useful result. 

Having thus examined all the 22 alleged discoveries, claimed as 
due to experimental research, I must leave the reader to judge 
whether vivisection is " the main source of our knowledge of 

A separate list is given of results " in aid of medicine." If the 
testimony of physicians of the highest rank in the profession is 
accepted, their verdict is against the alleged benefits of vivisection 


in the practice of the healing art. Sir James Y. Simpson did not 
even allude to it, in enumerating the causes of the advancement of 
medicine and surgery during the last half century. Professor 
Newman says : " I can attest that Dr. James Cowles Prichard 
assured me that vivisection had added nothing whatever to the 
physician's power of healing." When Sir Thomas Watson was 
giving evidence before the Royal Commission, the question was 
asked: "Although you have never performed any experiments, nor 
witnessed them, you have used the results of the experiments of 
others, have you not, as the basis for the advancement of your 
professional knowledge ? " The answer was : " I have made myself 
acquainted with the experiments and their results, and have turned 
them to such uses as I could." Of this reply Mr. Macilwain, him- 
self a distinguished and experienced surgeon, in reviewing the 
evidence, says: "Could any answer convey a more measured 
recognition of a mode of study, in reply to the question whether he 
had not made it a basis for the advancement of his professional 
knowledge? Could anything be more vague or unsatisfactory? 
Why was so experienced a witness not requested to favor the Com- 
mission with some of the details of so vast an experience? Why 
was he not requested to state in what cases he had turned it to 
account, and how far it had or had not answered his expecta- 
tions ? " 

The truth is, that the question was put apparently for the sake 
of the lay members of the Commission, and for the non-professional 
readers of the Blue Book. It was intended to suggest that vivi- 
section had been the source of improvements, if not of an entire 
reform of practice, in thus speaking of it as the basis of advance in 
professional knowledge. The interrogator knew too well, however, 
how imprudent it would be to follow up the tentative question. 
To have asked for details or examples would have exposed the 
futility of the claims of the vivisectionists to have amended or 
altered medical practice. Where attempts have been made to give 
details, the examples are not only few, but they lead at once back 
to the very matter under dispute, whether the knowledge on which 
the practice rests came from vivisection or from legitimate methods 
of research. 

On the article in the Bi'itish Medical Journal, already quoted, 
entitled " What has Vivisection done for Humanity?" the fol- 


lowing are the examples given, under the head of benefits, in 
" advancing therapeutics, relief of pain," etc.: — 1. Use of ether. 
2. Use of chloroform. 3. Chloral discovered experimentally by 
Liebreich. 4. The action of all remedies are only definitely ascer- 
tained by experiments on animals. 5. Action of Calabar Bean by 
Eraser. 6. Antagonism between active substances and the study 
of antidotes. — Many observers. 

Could there be a more meagre and more misleading set of 
examples? The practical use of anaesthetics would have been 
introduced and perfected if a single experiment on an inferior 
animal had never been made. The action of remedies on the human 
body can only be definitely ascertained by observation, and experi- 
ments on animals are more likely to mislead than to assist in gaining 
this definite knowledge. The action of some substances, such as 
antimony on horses and mercury on dogs, is widely different from 
their action on the human subject; and the effects, both of remedies 
and of poisons, vary much in the different animals experimented 
on. Dr. Thorowgood says he has seen opium given to a pigeon, 
enough to kill a strong man, without any effect. Goats have been 
known to browse on tobacco leaves, and rabbits on belladonna, with- 
out harm. Many such anomalies have been observed, and the only 
certain knowledge of the influence of substances on the human 
subject must be obtained by observation of cases in private or in 
hospital practice. 

In the debate on Lord Truro's "Cruelty to Animals" Bill, in 
the House of Lords, Earl Beauchamp adduced the fact that each 
year 20j000 human beings lost their lives from snake-bites, and 
asked if a cure for snake-bites would not be a discovery of vast 
importance. He intended to convey to their lordships the idea that 
vivisection can make this discovery. Multitudes of experiments 
have already been made without result. Even if an antidote 
should appear to have some influence on the animal operated upon, 
the result might be different in the human subject. The only 
possible way of testing alleged antidotes — and the natives of different 
regions profess to know this — is to apply them in actual cases of 
snake-bite. For such there must be frequent opportunity, if 20,000 
cases occur yearly. These are experiments which can do no harm, 
and might lead to discovery of cure. The poisoning of animals in 
order to try possible remedies is a needless system of cruel experiment. 


The " action of the Calabar Bean," the only distinct example 
specified, is no argument to adduce in such a discussion. It was 
reported to be a very dangerous poison, and Sir Robert Christison 
determined to try its effect upon himself — a very fair " experiment 
on a living animal ; " as was that of Sir James Simpson and Dr. 
Keith in testing the effect of chloroform as an anaesthetic. Of 
course, Sir Robert Christison proceeded with extreme caution, and 
apportioned the dose with much care, finding the effects such as 
had been reported by the missionaries in Africa. He then remitted 
the further examination to his assistant, Dr. Fraser, who, in course 
of experiments, noticed the remarkable effects of the bean on the 
pupil. With due caution, as in Sir Robert Christison's case, this 
effect might have been more certainly and directly observed in the 
human subject, and with no more danger or inconvenience than with 
other poisonous substances which, in minute quantities, are used as 
medicines. At all events, it is trifling with the question to single 
out this physiological fact as an example of the improvements in 
medical practice due to vivisection ! A stronger example would 
have been the action of Laburnum Bark. In a case of suspected 
poisoning with this substance, some trials by Christison on animals 
were thought necessary for the satisfaction of the jury, just as the 
performance of vivisections was undertaken by Sir Charles Bell for 
the satisfaction of the Council of the Royal Society. 

Passing from poisons, in regard to which some of the most 
plausible apologies for experiments have been urged, other pleas 
put forth in the British Medical Journal are scarcely worthy of 
reply or refutation. It is said, for instance (page 56, Jan. 9, 
1875), " Without vivisection-experiments, we would know almost 
nothing of the phenomena of inflammation." After all the obser- 
vations of physicians and surgeons, of physiologists and pathologists, 
for successive generations, at home and abroad, we are told to look 
to vivisectors for almost all our knowledge of the causes, the 
symptoms, and the results of inflammation ! The plea is prepos- 
terous, and the fact of it being seriously put forward in an article 
specially written in defence of vivisection is sufficient to show the 
groundlessness of the alleged practical benefits of this method of 

The article concludes with the following sentences, the mere 
quotation of which will suffice to show the inordinate claims and 


pretensions of vivisection: — "To record all the facts given to 
physiology by experiments on animals would simply be to write the 
history of the science. Therapeutics is yet in its infancy; but 
nearly all the facts definitely known regarding the actions of remedies 
have been gained by experiments on animals ! To stop experiments 
on animals would as surely arrest the progress of physiology, 
pathology and therapeutics, as an edict preventing the chemist from 
the use of the retort, test-tube, acids, and alkalies, would arrest the 
progress of chemistry." On reading this, I wondered what would 
be the effect of such an assertion in the minds of the intelligent 
readers of the British Medical Journal — of those, at least, outside 
the circles of vivisectors, and their advocates or apologists. Have 
all the observations of clinical medicine, of pathological anatomy, 
of pathological histology, and pathological chemistry been vain and 
fruitless? Have all the labors recorded in books of medicine and 
surgery, in medical reports and the transactions of societies, in 
practical manuals and text-books, and in our official pharmaco- 
poeias and dispensatories, been delusive and misleading? Almost 
the whole classic literature of the profession belongs to a time when, 
in England, the practice of vivisection was comparatively unknown, 
and when its results were regarded with doubt, if not with condem- 
nation. Have all the generalizations and conclusions of past 
experience been superseded by the results of this new method of 
research ? Has the healing art, in short, beeu wholly revolutionized 
since vivisectors came into the field? The official reports of the 
Registrar-General, the pages of our medical journals, the case-books 
of our practitioners, refute the claim. Till some better statement 
can be given of " what vivisection has done for humanity," 
respectable medical men will keep to the old paths — paths of honor, 
and not of shame. 

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that such experiments may 
have been of scientific value, or may have led to the discovery of 
scientific facts of permanent importance, could such discoveries not 
have been arrived at by a broad and comprehensive study of natural 
phenomena, or of those quasi-natural facts which are the continual 
accompaniments of civilization ? In short, could not observation 
have sufficed, without experiment on living animals? 

To this I give a direct answer, so far as physiology is concerned, 
in the words of the great Cuvier : " Nature has supplied the oppor- 


Utilities of learning that which experiments on the living body 
never could furnish. It presents us, in the different classes of 
animals, with nearly all possible combinations of organs, and in all 
proportions. There are none but have some description of organs 
by which they are made familiar to us; and it only is needful to 
examine closely the effects produced by these combinations, and the 
results of their partial or total absence, to deduce very probable 
conclusions as to the nature and use of each organ, and of each form 
of organ in man." 

Another eminent physiologist, Dr. Carpenter, says, " Almost all 
our knowledge of the laws of life must be derived from observation 
only. Experimentation can conduct us very little farther in this 
inquiry. The ever-varying forms of organized beings by which 
we are surrounded, and the constantly-changing conditions in which 
they exist, present us with such numerous and different combina- 
tions of causes and effects, that it must be the fault of our mode of 
study, if we do not arrive at some tolerably definite conclusion as 
to their mutual relations." Specially, on one branch of experi- 
mental research, engaging a large share of attention in physiological 
laboratories, Dr. Carpenter says : " On such subjects as the functions 
of the different parts of the encephalon, I do not believe that 
experiment can give trustworthy results ; such violence to one part 
cannot be put in practice without functional disturbance of the rest. 
Here I consider that a careful anatomical examination of the pro- 
gressively complicated forms of the encephalon from fishes up to 
man — the experiments already prepared by nature — is far more 
likely, than any number of experiments, to elucidate the problem." 

No clearer statement could be given as to the value of compara- 
tive anatomy and physiology, or observation of the structure and 
functions of the organs of the lower animals, in the study of human 
physiology. I may add, that the observation of abnormal specimens 
of the human body is also capable of affording conclusions which 
experimenters seek to arrive at by their painful processes. A 
careful collection and arrangement of such observations would 
establish, and has established, many facts in physiology with far 
greater certainty than experiment could do. In truth, the observa- 
tion of the human organs, in their early development and in cases 
of anomalous growth, affords many examples of " experiments 
prepared by nature." 


Of the light thrown on physiology by the facts and laws of physical 
and chemical science, it is needless to speak in detail. Reference is 
made to these branches of science in this place, only because the 
advocates of experimental physiology, as we have seen in examining 
Dr. M'Kend rick's list of alleged discoveries, unfairly adduce facts 
of natural science in support of their method of research. 

If physiology owes much to comparative anatomy, and also to 
physics, and to chemistry, it owes much to pathology. Along with 
pathology is included morbid anatomy, or the post-mortem inspection 
of structure, for investigation of the results of diseased action in 
life. When the writer was a student at the University of Edin- 
burgh, there was a good deal of discussion about vivisection, then 
attracting considerable notice, from the experiments of Magendie 
and other French physiologists. He well remembers Dr. Aber- 
crombie's strongly-expressed opinion about such experiments, and 
his advice to depend on clinical and pathological study for the 
knowledge that could be applied in the practice of medicine. 
Having had his attention thus early directed to the claims of 
experiment, as compared with observation, he has ever since watched 
the progress of vivisection ; and a review of the results now, after 
forty years, confirms the belief that Dr. Abercrombie's opinion and 
advice were right. And certainly not the least injurious influence 
of the present rage for experimenting is its tendency to withdraw 
attention from seeking the advancement of physiology, as well as 
medicine, through clinical and pathological study. 

Not professed biologists and physiologists only, but men in high 
position, as physicians, are echoing the strange and novel assertion, 
that all our most important knowledge and improved practice is 
derived from experiments on living animals. The experience of 
medical practitioners, in all the ages which are now called pre- 
scientific, is depreciated, and we are told to expect a new epoch in 
the healing art. But the more I think of it, the more I admire 
the courage as well as the wisdom of M. Nelaton, the distinguished 
surgeon, who professes to belong to the " pre-scientific " school, 
and declares, in opposition to the loud voice of present opinion, 
that there is no such thing as " scientific medicine," in the sense 
understood by Bernard and his admirers ; and that every source 
of information is delusive which is not derived from direct observa- 
tion of the patient. 


Our own most distinguished surgeon, the late Sir William Fer- 
gusson, made an avowal nearly as emphatic. When asked if 
experiments had not led to the successful treatment of complaints, 
or the mitigation of human suffering, he replied (Vivisection Blue 
Book, 1049), " I may, perhaps, speak more confidently regarding 
surgery than any other departments in my own profession ; and in 
surgery I am not aware of any of these experiments on the lower 
animals having led to the mitigation of pain, or to improvement as 
regards surgical details." Being asked about John Hunter's 
experiments, Sir William Fergusson said, that " Hunter's first 
experiment, if it might be so called, was done on the human subject ; 
and it was long after he had repeated his operation on the human 
subject, and others had repeated it, that the fashion of tying arteries 
and experimenting on the lower animals originated or was devel- 
oped. He had himself in early life performed such experiments, 
influenced by what others had done, and by the wish to come up to 
what they had done in such matters; but the more matured judg- 
ment of later years would not allow him to repeat what he did in 
earlier days. Neither was he aware that any very expert operator 
on the lower animals had made himself thereby an expert operator 
on the human subject." 

Many testimonies of a similar kind could be cited from most 
eminent physicians and surgeons. The only reason why stronger 
opposition to vivisection has not been made is from the prevalence 
of a vague idea that benefits of a practical kind may possibly result 
from increased knowledge of physiological facts and phenomena. 
It is forgotten, meanwhile, how all the most important facts capable 
of being applied in practice are already set down in books on the 
principles of medicine and surgery. 

Even in regard to pure physiology, the study of diseased action 
has often given the clue to the discovery of the function of organs. 
Physiology has learned far more from medical practice than medical 
practice can ever possibly gain from experiments on the lower 
animals. It was the study of diseases of the brain that gave the 
key to what knowledge we possess of the functions of the parts of 
the encephalon. It was by observing that paralysis of one side of 
the body was associated with certain diseased conditions of the 
opposite side of the brain, that the singular fact was established as 
to the right side being governed by the left side of the brain, and 


the left side by the right side of the brain. It was by the study of 
diseased conditions and their results, by observing symptoms, and 
by noting the pathological appearances, that the functions of the 
cerebral hemispheres, and of the corpus striatum, and of the optic 
thalamus, and other parts of the encephalon were ascertained. The 
wild exploration of structure and functions, under the unnatural 
conditions of vivisection, is more likely to retard than to expedite 
the knowledge of the uses and relations of the various parts of the 
nervous system. In our homes and our hospitals — not in physio- 
logical laboratories — we must study the human frame, in health and 
disease. The records of medical observation and practice contain 
boundless materials for induction, if the facts were carefully 
studied, wisely interpreted, and judiciously applied., I know of 
no instance where the mode of inquiry, by observation of the human 
system in health and disease, has retarded the dates of alleged 
discoveries resulting from experiments on animals. Some new 
discoveries will be claimed in the future as they have been in the 
past. But these experiments are so liable to fallacy, and in general 
so contradictory, that they cannot be used as guides to practice, 
until the facts are ascertained by scientific and professional 

In most cases, the experiments can have no bearing on medical 
practice. Professors Hitzig or Ferrier may anticipate wonderful 
results from connecting glycogenic function of the liver with violent 
injury of the brain in dogs; but no rational practitioner would 
confine his treatment of diabetes to the subduing of some supposed 
cerebral lesion. 

The discovery of antidotes to poisons is the most plausible ground 
on which the danger of delay in research can be pleaded. So far 
as this country is concerned, and in the experience of any general 
practitioner, ninety-nine in every hundred cases of poisoning, and 
even a larger proportion, are from substances with which we are 
perfectly familiar, and the antidotes to which are well known. 
Our practice in all these cases is intelligently guided by facts of 
physiology and of chemistry, confirmed by general experience. In 
very few cases, indeed, are specific antidotes known for poisons, 
and if any are proposed, their efficiency must be proved in actual 

Nor is it by experiments on animals that new discoveries are 


likely to be made, although the claim is urged — vainly, as we have 
shown — for this origin of the great " discovery " of vaccination. 
If any parallel discovery is made, in regard to other fatal diseases, 
it will be by "experiments" on the human body, not on animals. 
Even for the benefit of animals themselves, and indirectly for the 
advantage of man as having property in animals, I have great 
doubt as to such experiments being ever justifiable. The researches 
of Dr. Klein, under the sanction of Mr. Simon, Medical Officer of 
the Privy Council, and assisted by grants of public money, I con- 
sider wholly unjustifiable. To produce, artificially, such distressing 
diseases as typhoid fever, or pyaemia, in sheep or cattle is a bar- 
barous proceeding. So is the attempt to develope tuberculous 
disease in dogs. No practical advantage can be gained by the arti- 
ficial production of such diseases in animals, in throwing light 
either on their nature or their treatment in man. 

I do not know any more striking example of the futile results of 
experimental inquiry than that which was instituted some years 
ago on suspended animation. The Royal Humane Society had 
received from Dr. Silvester, and other medical men, various sug- 
gestions as to the best mode of treating persons apparently drowned. 
The Committee referred the proposals to the Royal Medical and 
Chirurgical Society, with a request for advice. A committee of 
investigation was appointed by the Royal Medical and Chirurgical 
Society, consisting of the following members: — C. J. B. Williams, 
M.D., f.r.s.; C. E. Brown-Sequard, m.d., f.r.s.; George Harley, 
m.d.; W. S. Kirkes, M.D.; H. Hyde Salter, m.d., f.r.s.; J. 
Burdon-Sanderson, m.d.; W. S. Savory, f.r.s.; and E. H. Sieve- 
king, M.D. 

Now, here was a clear and well-defined object of inquiry : the 
purpose for which it was instituted was practical and beneficent ; 
the investigators were men of science, able and experienced. 
Here, if anywhere, clear and satisfactory results might be looked 

In pursuing the inquiry, a large number of experiments were 
made upon living animals. In the first place, the phenomena of 
apnoea, in its least complicated form, were investigated — viz., when 
produced by simply depriving the animal of air. Tracheotomy 
was performed upon animals fastened down to a table on their 
backs, and glass tubes inserted, and secured firmly by ligature. 


Through a tube thus inserted the animal could breathe freely, but 
the air could be at once and effectively cut off by inserting a tightly- 
fitting cork into the upper end of the tube. In this way a measure 
could be obtained of the time when respiration would cease. In 
order to observe in the same animals the duration of the action of 
the heart, long pins were inserted through the thoracic walls into 
some part of the ventricles. The movements of the pin indicated 
the motion of the heart, after the cardiac sounds had ceased to be 
audible. The conclusion from many experiments was that, in 
simple apnoea, the action of the heart continued a considerable time 
after the respiratory movements had ceased ; a fact well known, 
and needing no cruel experiments to establish it. 

In dogs, the average duration of the respiratory movements, 
after the plugging of the tube, was 4 minutes 5 seconds; the 
extremes being 3 minutes 30 seconds, and 4 minutes 40 seconds. 
The average duration of the heart's action, on the other hand, was 
7 minutes 11 seconds; the extremes being 6 minutes 40 seconds, 
and 7 minutes 45 seconds. 

Another series of experiments led to the conclusion, that a dog 
may be deprived of fresh supply of air during a period of 3 minutes 
50 seconds, and afterwards recover without the application of 
artificial means, but is not likely to recover after being deprived of 
air for 4 minutes 10 seconds. Experiments were also made in 
order to measure the force of the respiratory efforts after the plug- 
ging of the glass tube. 

Hitherto nothiug is ascertained except that the action of the 
heart continues longer than that of the lungs in suspended anima- 
tion, and that the death struggles in victims of suffocation vary in 
duration by a few seconds. On proceeding to experiments on 
drowning, it was found that the time of possible recovery of dogs, 
after immersion, was only 1 minute 30 seconds, on an average, 
instead of 4 minutes, from simple deprivation of air. " To what is 
this striking difference due ?" the investigators ask. Experiments 
were made in order to eliminate from the inquiry the element of 
struggling, also the element of cold, and, lastly, the access of water 
to the lungs. On this latter point it was found that a dog with the 
windpipe plugged recovered from a longer submersion than a dog 
without the windpipe plugged. The conclusion from the various 
experiments on immersion was, that the period of death depended 


mainly on the entrance of water into the lungs. Violent respiratory 
efforts hastened this fatal result, while the action of chloroform, as 
diminishing such struggles, retarded death. 

Experiments were next made as to the best means of resuscita- 
tion, including galvanism, venesection, cold affusion, actual cautery, 
and other methods ; in all the experiments the animals being suffo- 
cated in the usual way by plugging tlieir windpipes. None of the 
proposed methods obtained any support from the experiments; 
which failed also in giving any conclusion as to the relative value 
of the various modes of artificial respiration. 

In presenting their report to the Royal Humane Society, the 
Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society were able to recommend no 
practical suggestions as the result of their inquiry. Dr. Edward 
Smith gave due credit for the extent and accuracy of the facts 
reported, the care with which they had been ascertained, and the 
pains taken to estimate the influence of disturbing causes. But in 
reference to the practical object in the appointment of the Com- 
mittee, the report, he said, failed. The Committee had not proved 
that any one of their inquiries was applicable to the human subject. 
They recorded to a second the time when various phenomena 
occurred in different dogs, some surviving longer than others, and 
some recovering more rapidly than others. But the time during 
which different men could be immersed and recover could not be 
proved by experiments on dogs, and the Committee had shown that 
all their plans for the restoration of drowned dogs had failed. Dr. 
Webster expressed regret that so much suffering had been inflicted, 
and the lives of so many dogs sacrificed. He hoped that in future 
experiments on living animals would be avoided. 

On referring to the Reports of the Royal Humane Society, and 
making inquiry from its officers, I learn that no modifications of 
the method of restoring suspended animation in persons apparently 
drowned resulted from the experimental inquiry. Any slight 
modification of the method originally introduced to the Society by 
Dr. Silvester has arisen out of observation on hvman bodies, and 
experience in their treatment. 

Are there not fallacies underlying such a method of interrogating 
Nature which, of necessity, vitiate the results? A clearer and 
more forcible reply to this question could not be given than in the 


words of the old Roman physician and writer on medicine, Celsus : 
" It is alike unprofitable and cruel/' he says, " to lay open with the 
knife living bodies, so that the art which is designed for the pro- 
tection and relief of suffering is made to inflict injury, and that of 
the most atrocious nature. Of the things sought for by these cruel 
practices, some are altogether beyond the reach of human knowledge, 
and others could be ascertained without the aid of such wicked 
methods of research. The appearances and conditions of the parts 
of a living body thus examined must be very different from what 
they are in their natural state. If, in the entire and uninjured 
body, we can often, by external observation, perceive remarkable 
changes, produced from fear, pain, hunger, weariness, and a thousand 
other affections, how much greater must be the changes induced by 
the dreadful incisions and cruel mangling of the dissector, in inter- 
nal parts whose structure is far more delicate, and which are placed 
in circumstances altogether unusual." These remarks of Celsus 
were made in reference to the inspection of the living bodies of 
human criminals, who were handed over for this purpose to the 
"physiological laboratories" of the medical school of Alexandria, 
and probably to other places of study. The objections to such 
researches, so strongly urged by Celsus, apply with double force to 
experiments on the lower animals, where the differences of function 
and of structure must further diminish the chance of light being 
thrown on the physiology of man in the natural condition. 

That observations made by vivisection are of necessity abnormal 
and liable to fallacy, reason alone might show, independently of 
experience. The sources of error arise not from any contingent 
cause, but from the very nature of this method of investigation. 
Nature, when interrogated, reveals only what is her condition at 
the moment of examination, and hence, although the permanent 
and unvarying properties of inanimate matter renders the use of 
experiment of paramount value, the questioning process is more 
limited, and its results more uncertain, when applied to living and 
sentient beings. We cannot depend on the accuracy of conclusions 
respecting the normal functions of parts, if drawn from experiments 
which only tell what takes place in those unnatural conditions 
induced by operations. For not only are the ordinary actions of 
the organs thereby often deranged or destroyed, but many causes 
conspire to render still wider the difference between the observed 


and the natural condition of the subjects operated upon. The 
deadening of pain during the actual use of the knife and other 
instruments, is only one element in the contrast, although chloro- 
form itself in many cases increases the sources of fallacy and 
interferes with results. The excitement and terror of the animal 
must be taken into account; and there is abnormal action, even 
if the body be made insensible and unconscious. " I do not 
believe," says Professor Carpenter, " that on such subjects as 
the functions of the different parts of the encephalon, experi- 
ments can give trustworthy results; since violence to one part 
cannot be put in practice without functional disturbance of the 

Experience has confirmed these reasonable objections to experi- 
ments on living animals as necessarily liable to f&llacy. The results 
obtained by different experimenters are so various, and often so 
contradictory, that there is scarcely a single position laid down by 
them that can with confidence be adopted. We find that the most 
opposite results occur at different times from injury of the same 
organs; that injury of different organs often produce the same 
results; and that the same experiments are not followed by the 
same results in different subjects. The latter remark applies 
specially to poisons, the effects of which show remarkable varia- 
tions in different animals. I think that the true value of these 
experimental researches was rightly estimated by Dr. Pritchard, 
who, in his work on insanity, says : — " It is well known to all those 
who have paid attention to the recent progress of physiology, that 
attempts have been made to ascertain the functions of the different 
parts of the brain and its appendages by removing successively 
parts of these organs from living animals, and noticing the changes 
which ensued in their actions when thus mutilated. The most 
celebrated of these was the series of experiments instituted by M. 
Fleureus. MM. Magendie and Serres, and more lately Fodera 
and Bouillaud, have occupied themselves with similar researches. 
The results obtained from these experiments not only differ in 
essential respects from each other, but are completely opposed to 
conclusions deduced from inquiries instituted and pursued for 
several years on a different path. These inquirers are disposed to 
distrust all the results of vivisection, or experiments performed by 
cutting away the brains of living animals. The method of research 


which they have pursued is that of minute and accurate observa- 
tion of pathological facts." 

The following passage occurs in the work of the late Dr. Bar- 
clay, the founder of the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons 
of Edinburgh, "On the Muscular Motions," p. 298 : " In making 
experiments on live animals, even, when the species of respiration 
is the same as our own, anatomists must often witness phenomena 
that can be phenomena only of rare occurrence. After considering 
that the actions of the diaphragm, in ordinary cases, are different 
from its actions in sneezing and coughing, and these again different 
from its actions in laughing and hiccup ; after considering that our 
breathing is varied by heat and cold, by pleasure and pain, by 
every strong mental emotion, by the different states of health and 
disease, by different attitudes and different exertions, — we can 
hardly suppose that an animal under the influence of horror; 
placed in a forced and unnatural attitude; its viscera exposed to 
the stimulus of air; its blood flowing out; many of its muscles 
divided by the knife; and its nervous system driven to violent 
desultory action from excruciating pain, would exhibit the 
phenomena of ordinary respiration. In that situation its muscles 
must produce many effects, not only of violent but irregular action ; 
and not only the muscles usually employed in performing the 
function, but also the muscles that occasionally are required to act 
as auxiliaries. If different anatomists, after seeing different species 
of animals or different individuals of the same species respiring 
under different experiments of torture, were each to conclude that 
the phenomena produced in these cases were analogous to those of 
ordinary respiration, their differences of opinion as to the motions 
of ordinary respiration would be immense." 

What Dr. Barclay here says about the fallacies inseparable from 
experiments on respiration will apply with greater force to other 
departments of physiology which have been investigated in a similar 

It would be easy to multiply testimonies, but there is space only 
to add the statements of one or two experimenters who have them- 
selves admitted the uncertain and fallacious nature of their method 
of research. M. Legallois remarks in one place, of his " Experi- 
ments on the influence of the nervous system on the circulation : " 
" J'eus presque autant de r^sultats differens que d' experiences ; et 


apres bien des efforts inutiles pour porter la lumiere dans cette 
tenebreuse question, je pris la partie de l'abandonner non sans 
regret d'y avoir sacrifie' un grand nombre d' animaux, et perdu 
beaucoup de temps." 

The experience of M. Colin, a zealous advocate and extensive 
practicer of vivisection, is worthy of being noted. " Certain experi- 
ments," he says, "are complex in their nature when they are 
applied to important functions, the perturbations of which react on 
nearly the whole animal economy. Apply your instrument to the 
brain or the heart, and immediately you have general and serious 
disturbances of the system which it is necessary to disengage from 
those which belong to the direct and local result of the experiment." 
And again, with regard to the uncertainty of the results obtained, 
M. Colin says : " Often the same experiment repeated twenty times 
gives twenty different results, even when the animals are placed 
apparently in the same conditions. It may even happen that the 
same experiment gives contradictory results." M. Colin, after 
making this admission, speaks of the necessity for multiplying 
experiments : " It is not necessary to recommence in order to learn." 
The fairer and more philosophical conclusion would be, with M. 
Legallois, to desist from a mode of investigation which experience 
has shown to be unsatisfactory, and by the very nature of it, and 
of necessity, fallacious. 

Sir Charles Bell said that " Vivisection has done more to per- 
petuate error than to enforce the just views taken from anatomy 
and the natural sciences." He said this chiefly in regard to the 
facts and principles of physiology. But the accusation holds good 
also as to the practice of the healing art, whether in medicine or 
surgery. Notable illustration of this has been given by Mr. G. 
Macilwain, F.E.c.s., in a recent treatise on vivisection, being chiefly 
short comments on portions of the evidence given before the Royal 
Commission. He proposed to prove to the Commission that experi- 
ments on living animals were not only useless and hindering more 
philosophical modes of research, but that they have been misleading, 
and so productive of great practical mischief in the practice of 
surgery. He was not allowed to do this, being courteously reminded 
that he was not before a medical committee. But he has since 
published what he intended to say, and his statements are valuable 


testimonies for those who seek to know the truth on the subject. 
Mr. Macilwain has been very long known as an eminent and suc- 
cessful surgeon, and in his lectures and books he has shown himself 
to possess much of the shrewd insight and independent thought of 
his great master, Mr. Abernethy. 

The two illustrations of the misleading and mischievous influence 
of experiments on living animals are from the practice and the 
writings of Sir Astley Cooper and Mr. Travers, both men most 
popular in their day, and whose names have still great authority in 
the profession. The points selected by Mr. Macilwain seem to him 
good illustrations of the faults which are inseparable from vivisec- 
tional inquiries. 

Sir Astley Cooper thought that when the neck of the thigh bone 
was fractured within the capsule enclosing the hip joint, repair by 
bony union was impracticable, and that union if eifected could only 
be by ligament. That this mode of union was frequent after 
fracture of the neck of the femur, he knew, but ligamentous union 
also is the mode of repair in other parts. Nay, more, it was known 
that sometimes surgeons, after a while, purposely allowed some 
degree of motion in fractured bones, where they feared that the 
secretion of bone might be in inconvenient excess, and where liga- 
mentous union took place. Besides, he knew that this fracture 
took place most commonly in persons advanced in life, when 
unusual care is necessary as regards the utmost quiet of the limb, 
so that no disturbance should occur in parts which it was essential 
to keep in apposition, and that various circumstances rendered this, 
in many cases, a matter of no small difficulty. Now, all this might 
be said to apply, more or less, to fractures in general, but it seems 
to have been lost sight of or unappreciated by Sir Astley. He 
had got the one idea of deficient reparative power, and seems to 
have referred failure to nothing else. Well, to prove this, as he 
thought, he made some experiments on animals ; and here is another 
feature common in vivisection. A supposition is started, contrary 
to or irreconcileable with many known facts, or to some obvious 
analogy, and then experiments are made, to see if it is true. So 
that, in a vast number of cases, a man commences his experiments, 
as Sir Astley did, with the disadvantage of a foregone conclusion. 
He accordingly experimented on dogs; and finding that the frac- 
tures he made in the thighs of the dogs only united by ligament, he 


regarded that as a confirmation of his doctrine. " Now," says Mr. 
Macilwain, " I will venture to affirm that not one of the circum- 
stances necessary to the proper repair of the fractured neck of the 
thigh bone in the human subject could be accomplished in the dog, 
and especially that chief of all, the continually undisturbed condi- 
tion of the injured parts. But many surgeons, both here and on 
the Continent, took another view of the subject, and maintained 
that if the parts were kept perfectly still, and so retained for the 
requisite time, the fractured neck of the thigh-bone would do just 
as well as others. Amongst these were Mr. Abernethy and Baron 
Larrey. Cases were successful, but were for a time met by the alle- 
gation that the fractures were outside or partially outside the capsule 
of the joint. As this could not be proved or disproved but by 
dissection, years passed during which the subject was matter of 
opinion. At length two or three cases occurred where opportunity 
was given to examine the joint after death, and the bony union of 
the fracture was fully established. But much evil had been done. 
Sir Astley was surgeon to one of the largest hospitals, and a leading 
teacher of surgery. Concluding that bony union could not be 
obtained in such cases, he recommended and adopted a practice 
which rendered it impossible. When the patient had been in bed 
a fortnight or so, and the inflammation consequent on the injury 
had subsided, he was made to rise and use a crutch, which, as ren- 
dering bony union impossible, necessarily involved lameness for 
life. The lamentable result of this practice of Sir Astley, though 
not warranted by a careful view of all the practical facts, but which, 
he concluded, his experiments on dogs seemed to confirm, can only 
be estimated by considering the number of cases submitted to his 
care, besides those of his pupils, who would probably, for a time at 
least, adopt the practice of their distinguished teacher. 

Mr. Travers performed experiments on living dogs, causing a 
variety of injuries to the intestines, with a view to ascertain their 
powers of repair under these injuries. His inquiries seem specially 
to have been directed to the treatment of strangulated hernia. In 
writing of this disease, Mr. Travers says, that the danger of the 
operation in strangulated hernia is from peritonitis. That is true; 
but now hear the remedy he proposes. " The great means to 
combat this is by purgatives. If there is no peritonitis," he says, 
" we give purgatives to prevent it ; and if there is peritonitis, we 


give purgatives to cure it." It must be admitted that this use of 
purgatives has been common in the profession; but Mr. Macilwain 
thinks the treatment recommended by Mr. Travers worthy of 
special mention, because it shows how much he erred, if not in con- 
sequence of, certainly notwithstanding, his experiments on animals. 
The probable explanation of the accession of peritonitis is, that 
where mucous and serous membranes are associated in the same 
organ, and the irritation of the mucous surface is accompanied by 
some obstacle which hinders the proper relief of the mucous, the 
irritation, or its effects, will be transferred to the serous membrane. 
To treat such a state by purgatives is an evident mistake, and suffi- 
ciently accounts for the great mortality under the treatment. Mr. 
Macilwain adopted successfully other measures to check inflamma- 
tion, and he states that his predecessor, as surgeon to the London 
Truss Society — the elder Taunton — never gave purgatives, and had 
operated upwards of fifty times with only one or two failures. 
\Vhether Mr. Travers' treatment proceeded from what he did in 
his operations, or from what he neglected to do, it still illustrates 
the misleading character of vivisection, which failed to give useful 
guidance, when specially questioned by men so able and distinguished 
as Sir Astley Cooper and Mr. Travers. 

The improvement in the mode of the ligature of arteries, intro- 
duced early in this century by Mr. Jones, has been ascribed to 
experiments on animals. These experiments may have confirmed 
his views, and satisfied others who saw them, but they were made 
in support of observation in the human body, which a few trials on 
small vessels, in the operating theatre, would have established far 
more speedily and surely. Yet this was presented by one witness 
to the Iloyal Commission as proving the necessity for experi- 

Nor were the arguments bearing on improvements in medical 
practice more conclusive. Take the experimental researches of Dr. 
Lauder Brunton in attempting to discover the pathology of cholera. 
His own account of the investigation, as given in his examination 
before the Commission, is as follows : " It was discovered by Moreau 
that by performing a certain operation upon the intestine you could 
get a discharge into the intestine. This discharge was discovered 
by Kuhne to be exactly the same as was found in the intestine 
after cholera ; so I thought, if we can find out the exact part of the 


nervous system that is concerned in causing this discharge, we shall 
probably be able to find out the part of the nervous system con- 
cerned in cholera ; 'and having once found that out, we may be able 
to get a drug that will act upon it, and thus cure cholera." There 
were several series of experiments, in the first of which ninety cats 
were used. In using the knife chloroform was given, but the 
animals were allowed to live some time after they recovered Dr. 
Brunton told the Commissioners that " they suffered a certain 
amount of discomfort, and possibly, pain, indeed, probably, pain, 
though I do not think very great pain ; I think probably not 
much more pain than a man would suffer who had perhaps a bad 
attack of diarrhoea." It was also said that they were killed in four 
or five hours.* It is not necessary to give the details of these 
experiments, nor do I wish to speak of them here as cruel, as the 
motive of the operator may have been humane. But what are we 
to think of the logic that led to the inquiry, and the wisdom with 
which it was carried out? Moreau found he could produce a 
discharge into the intestine ; Kiihne said this discharge was the 
same as that found after cholera; therefore, if we can find the part 
of the nervous system concerned in causing this discharge, we may 
find some drug that will act upon it, and thus cure cholera ! The 
prospects of a cholera specific from vivisection are not very bright. 
Let us hope that not many hundreds of cats or dogs may be killed, 
in slow torture, before the unwisdom of the inquiry is recognized. 
The ninety cats of "the first series" of experiments might have 

If vivisection were really the luminous and fruitful method of 
research which its advocates represent it to be, physiology must 
long ere now have been the most advanced of the sciences, and none 
of the mysteries of animal life would remain obscure. For the last 
fifty years, on the Continent, many men of high rank in science, 
learned and gifted, with well appointed laboratories and an unlimited 
supply of subjects for experiment — encouraged and applauded by 
the profession, and with no check or restraint from law or public 
opinion — have zealously cultivated this field of inquiry. In recent 
years many physiologists and biologists in England and America 

* This may have been the case in some of the experiments, but in the Bar- 
tholomew Hospital Reports of Dr. Legg, there are records of other experiments 
where the animals lingered for weeks. 


have entered into rivalry with those of France, Germany, and 
Italy. The experiments during the past half century may be reck- 
oned by tens of thousands, some say even hundreds of thousands. 
Surely we may expect to have obtained abundant fruits from all 
this expenditure of labor and skill, of time and of life ! Surely we 
may ask, what are the results of this long and unfettered 
investigation ? 

Admitting, as most medical men do, the abstract right to perform 
experiments on living animals for the advancement of science, with 
a view to the improvement of the healing art, the utility and value 
of this method of research may fairly be discussed. If unquestioned 
and important results could be shown, the protests against vivisec- 
tion from the medical profession would be few. But vivisection 
has been tried and found wanting. The whole history of this 
branch of physiological research — from the time of Herophilus, 
Erasistratus, and the Egyptian operators who had living human 
bodies to experiment upon, down to our own clay, when Professor 
Ferrier has to be content with the anthropoid progenitor of 
the human race, and Professor Rutherford with man's faithful 
dependent, the dog, as the subjects for examination — the whole 
history of vivisection, if it does not convince men of science of the 
entire uselessness of these modes of research, will at least force them 
to admit that they are of infinitely less service than it is now the 
custom to represent them. Take any one of the particular subjects 
that have most occupied the attention of experimenters — the func- 
tions of the various parts of the encephalon, for example — and what 
a mass of vague and absurdly discordant results appear as the fruit 
of all their researches ! After the myriads of experiments by 
Legallois and Wilson Philip, Amussat and Fleurens, Magendieand 
Bouillaud, and by multitudes of others down to our own day, it is 
surely fair to ask what results cau be shown. What facts are there, 
universally or even generally admitted, that can be truly described 
as the fruits of vivisection ? A few conclusions, indeed, are given 
by experimenters as having been placed by them beyond the reach 
of controversy ; but these few, I maintain, could have been as surely 
arrived at by anatomical and pathological research. 

It is a matter of regret, at the same time, that most men are not 
satisfied by the inductions obtained by legitimate means, and require 
for their conviction the visible demonstrations which the vivisector 


offers It was thus with the great discovery of Sir Charles Bell, 
whose experiments, he expressly states, were performed, not for his 
own conviction, but for the satisfaction of others. It is the same 
with many of the vaunted discoveries of vivisectors, who gain 
ready reception and loud praise for the announcement and demon- 
stration of facts already established by clinical and pathological 

No opponent of vivisection denies that by means of it many 
facts in physiology can be demonstrated, and many phenomena of 
animal life illustrated. No one denies that, while it is a method 
of research liable to much fallacy, and often apt to mislead or even 
to lead to wrong conclusions, it is also capable, on some points, of 
giving speedy and clear demonstration of facts and phenomena. 
The conclusiveness of many experiments on living animals is not 
disputed. For example, M. Magendie demonstrated that cutting 
off the eyelids of a rabbit, and leaving bare the globe of the eye, 
brought on ophthalmia. MM. Bouley and Colin starved a horse, 
made an open wound in the throat, and injected some grains of 
strychnine, and the poor animal died in " characteristic convul- 
sions." M. Fleurens removed with a knife some layers of the 
brain of a bird ; " it immediately manifested a loss of harmony in 
its movements, it staggered, and fell." M. Bouillaud, who antici- 
pated Professor Ferrier in his researches on the functions of the 
brain, conducted numerous experiments by injuring or removing 
various portions of the cerebral substance in different animals. In 
one of these he made an opening in the forehead of a young dog, 
on each side, and forced a red hot, iron into the anterior lobes of 
the brain. " Immediately afterwards the animal, after howling 
violently, lay down as if to sleep. On urging it, it walked or even 
ran, for a considerable space; but it did not know how to avoid 
obstacles placed in its way, and on encountering them groaned, or 
even howled violently. Deprived of the knowledge of external 
objects, it no longer made any movements either to avoid or 
approach them. Yet it could still perform such motions as are 
called instinctive; it withdrew its feet when they were pinched, 
and shook itself when water was poured upon it. It turned inces- 
santly in its cage, as if to get out, and became impatient of the 
restraint thus imposed." These instinctive actions continued for 
several days, but no improvement appeared in its intellectual 


power, and it was killed because its irrepressible cries disturbed the 
neighborhood. The anterior part of the cerebrum of another dog 
was removed, and the results watched for several weeks. The 
details are too revolting to give, but the chief result noted is that 
the instinctive actions were not greatly affected. It ate with 
voracity, and when flung into the river swam on shore and returned to 
the house. But it acted " like an uneducated dog, whose intellect is 
undeveloped. When menaced, it crouches as if to implore mercy, 
but does not in consequence obey. Its want of docility was remark- 
able; when called it did not come, but lay down and wagged its 
tail with an air of stupidity." Experiments very similar to those 
of M. Bouillaud have been conducted by Professor Ferrier at the 
Laboratory of the West Riding Lunatic Asylum, and elsewhere. 
The brain being exposed by sawing away portions of the skull, the 
results of injury to various parts, by knife, concentrated acids, and 
by electric shocks, were observed and noted. Chloroform was 
usually administered, but the reports of the experiments show that 
the animals were not continuously under its influence, and some- 
times were only " partly narcotized." Here, as in the French 
experiments, we read of the animals exhibiting signs of pain, fear, 
and rage. (i The animal exhibited signs of pain, screamed, and 
kicked out with its left hind leg, at the same time turning its head 
round and looking behind it in an astonished manner." " When 
the temporo-sphenoidal gyri were being exposed the animal bit 
angrily, and gnawed its own legs.* It did the same generally 
after irritation of the same parts." " The excitability of the brain 
was now well-nigh exhausted, and entirely disappeared four hours 
after the commencement of the experiment, during which time the 
exploration was kept up uninterruptedly." Or take one of Pro- 
fessor Rutherford's experiments upon " the biliary secretion of the 
dog." "Nine grains of podophylline, triturated in a mortar with 
some bile as a solvent, were injected into the duodenum of a dog, 
opened for the purpose. A rapid increase in the bile-secretion 
ensued ; but soon it diminished, and three hours after the injection 
it was lower than it had ever been. In this remarkable experiment, 

* Dr. J. Crichton Browne told the Roj'al Commissioners that these were 
" merely mechanical movements,'" and that the animals were unconscious of 
pain (3189). Dr. Ferrier said he was most careful to avoid causing pain (3228). 
I must refer back to what I have said about anaesthetics, pp. 17-20. 


therefore, the diminution of bile-secretion after podophylline was 
more marked than its increase ; indeed, the increase might have 
possibly been owing to the injected bile, and not to the podophyl- 
line. Towards the close of the experiment the pulse became weak, 
but not excessively so. Autopsy : The mucous membrane of the 
stomach and whole length of small intestine were intensely red. 
The small intestine contained a large quantity of fluid. The large 
intestine contained a considerable quantity of liquid fecal matter. 
There was, therefore, abundant evidence that excessive purgation 
was imminent." The conclusion was that this large dose of podo- 
phylline, with a biliary solvent, produced intense irritation of the 
intestine, with signs of purgative power, but with effect on the 
liver not corresponding to the other results. Other experiments 
showed that when the intestinal irritation is less the biliary secre- 
tion is larger. The practical use of the experiments we are not 
now considering, but in these, as in other operations of the vivi- 
sectors, certain physiological facts are clearly exhibited. The same 
remark may be made as to the vast majority of experiments given 
in the " Handbook of the Physiological Laboratory," and in other 
manuals of vivisection. Our contention is not that such experi- 
ments are inconclusive in many instances, but that they are useless, 
and therefore cruel and immoral. Of many of them we affirm that 
the facts ascertained have no bearing either on the general principle 
of physiology, nor on the practice of medicine. And of others, 
which seem to bear some relation to the advancement of knowledge 
or art, we affirm that the results could be and are attained by 
clinical and pathological observation. In the words of Celsus, 
which may be taken as the motto for this essay, " Hsec cognoscere 
prudentem medicum non cEedem sed sanitatem molientem ; idque 
per misericordiam discere, quod alii dira crudelitate cognoverint." 
And again, " Ex lis quoe violentia quseruntur, alia non possunt 
omuino cognosci, alia possunt etiam sine scelere." 

We are now prepared for considering the question, Are experi- 
ments on living animals morally justifiable? The question cannot 
receive a direct and categorical reply, irrespective of motives and 
of results. Man's dominion over the lower animals is very large, 
and it is his, not only by superior knowledge and power, but by 
Divine appointment. The dominion is not absolute, but limited by 


the eternal obligations of justice and mercy. Man may use this 
delegated dominion for his own benefit, but he may not abuse it. 
The gentle and genial poet, Cowper, has well expressed the extent 
and the limit of this dominion : — 

" The sum is this, — if man's convenience, health, 
Or safety interfere, his rights and claims 
Are paramount, and must extinguish theirs : 
Else they are all, the meanest things that are, 
As free to live, and to enjoy that life, 
As God was free to form them at the first, 
Who in His sovereign wisdom made them all." 

For the food, the clothing, and other uses of man, many animals 
are sacrificed. None but Brahmins, on religious grounds, or some 
Vegetarians, on the grounds partly dietetic and partly ethical, 
object to taking the life of the lower animals for such purposes. 
Even when life is not taken, animals may be put to pain and may 
suffer injury, as in castration, to fit them for the useful service of 
man. On the same principle, it can fairly be argued that man has 
right to use animals for researches that may lead to the restoration 
or the preservation of human health. But, before we admit this, 
we must be satisfied that the results of these researches are such as 
justify the resort to them, and also that these resultscan be obtained 
in no other way. This is what we have investigated in the previous 
part of our essay, and have concluded that, on this plea, they are 
not justifiable. 

There is another way of looking at the question of vivisection, 
as tending to human benefit. If it is right to perform experiments 
on living bodies for advancement of the healing art, why not per- 
form them on human bodies? It has been done in past times, and 
may be proposed again. If condemned malefactors were operated 
upon, it would only be anticipating, by a brief period, their hour 
of death. Or the experiments might be made on the insane and 
imbecile, or persons defective in intellectual or moral faculties, but 
with animal life in natural vigor. These subjects would be free 
from the objections arising out of the different structure, constitu- 
tion, and functions of the lower animals, though still liable to cer- 
tain fallacies inseparable from the very method of research. "Vivi- 
sectors make light of these alleged fallacies, and think their experi- 
ments full of light and fruit. Fair argument might be used for 


experiments on living men, with or without anaesthetics, as the 
inquiry might demand. It might be argued that it is expedient or 
right that one or a few should suffer for the benefit of the human 
family. And if the argument, " in majus bonum," were strengthened 
by reference to corpora villa, then of malefactors doomed to die, 
and of imbeciles, this could be truly said. 

Vivisectors would hardly venture, at least not yet — at least in 
England — to propose returning to the practice of experiments on 
living human bodies. Public opinion, and medical opinion, would 
revolt from the proposal, if biologists and physiologists should pro- 
pose it. 

And why ? Not because the arguments for such experiments are 
weak, but because the objections of the moral sense are strong. 
Except for self-defence or self-preservation, the moral sense recoils 
from the infliction of pain and injury, even when a lofty motive 
may be urged. Why has trial by torture been banished from the 
jurisprudence of every civilized nation? The object of the rack, 
and the thumbscrew, and of all the infernal apparatus in use in our 
courts of law at no very remote period, was not to cause pain, far 
less to give any satisfaction or pleasure. The discovery of truth 
was the object in this method of interrogation; and with this end 
in view, the use of torture was justified, and directed by rulers and 
judges in other respects humane as well as just. In the still more 
horrible tortures of the Inquisition, the object was not avowedly 
that of vindictive punishment; nor need we assume that even the 
lowest executioners and officers of that dark tribunal took pleasure 
in the agonies of their heretic victims. The professed aim was 
higher even than in the processes of ordinary torture in courts of 
law. The advancement of Divine truth and of sacred science, or 
theology, was the alleged design of the Inquisition, while the 
spiritual welfare and eternal salvation of men might be also 
attained, through subjecting them to short though sharp affliction. 
Yet examination by torture is advocated by no one, because the 
infliction of pain, even for the advancement of truth, is not justi- 
fiable. Anil does not this apply with equal force to experiments 
on the lower animals? This is, indeed, interrogating nature by 
torture ! You might operate on human "subjects with no higher 
intelligence, and of no higher moral condition, and certainly with 
no more sensitive frame, than the poor brutes that are carried to 


the vivisector's laboratory. It is the infliction of pain and injury 
that cannot be justified, whether the victim be an imbecile human 
idiot, or a docile intelligent dog. 

Professor Newman, in a published letter, has said, " Evidently 
the reason why it is wicked to torture a man is not because he has 
an immortal soul, but because he has a highly sensitive body; and 
so has every vertebrate animal, especially the warm-blooded. If 
we have no moral right to torture a man, neither have we a moral 
right to torture a dog." And again, " We have to add to our 
morals a new chapter on the Rights of Animals. Men who teach 
to trample them down are teachers of hard-heartedness, and are 
real enemies of mankind, while they undertake to promote human 

There is a remarkable passage in the works of Jeremy Bentham, 
applying the principle of natural law to the rights of animals. It 
is quoted by Sir Arthur Helps in his "Talks about Animals and 
their Masters." " The day may come when the rest of the animal 
creation may acquire those rights which never could have been 
withheld from them but by the hand of tyranny. It may come 
one day to be recognized that the number of legs, the villosity of 
the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum, are reasons insuffi- 
cient for abandoning a sensitive being to the caprice of a tormentor. 
What else is it that should trace the inseparable line? Is it the 
faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full- 
grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational as well 
as a more conversable animal than an infant of a day, or a week, or 
even a month old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what 
could it avail ? The question is not, ' Can they reason ? ' nor ' Can 
they speak ? > but ' Can they suffer ? ' " 

If Justice requires that the rights of animals should be respected, 
and questions of wrong-doing not be confined to man's treatment 
of his fellow-men, much more does Mercy refuse to recognize the 
arbitrary limit of our own species. " There is implanted by Na- 
ture," says Lord Bacon, " in the heart of man, a noble and excel- 
lent affection of mercy, extending even to the brute animals which, 
by the Divine appointment, are subjected to his dominion." 

Dr. Chalmers, in his eloquent sermon, says of humanity to the 
lower animals: — "It is a virtue which oversteps, as it were, the 


limits of a species, ancf which prompts a descending movement on 
our part, of righteousness and mercy towards those who have an 
inferior place to ourselves in the scale of creation. It is not the 
circulation of benevolence within the limits of one species. It is 
the transmission of it from one species to another. The first is the 
charity of a world. The second is the charity of a universe. Had 
there been no such charity, no descending current of love and of com- 
passion from species to species, what, I ask, would have become of 
ourselves? . . . The distance upward between us and that 
mysterious Being who let Himself down from Heaven's high con- 
cave upon our lowly platform, surpasses by infinity the distance 
downward between us and everything that breathes. And He 
bowed Himself thus far for the purpose of an example, as well 
as for the purpose of an expiation, that every Christian might 
extend his compassionate regards over the whole of sentient and 
suffering nature." By Dr. Chalmers the duty of mercy to animals 
was thus lifted to the highest level of Christian ethics. In the 
same spirit are the words of a distinguished man of science and 
Christian philanthropist, Dr. George Wilson: — "There is an 
example as well as a lesson for us in the Saviour's compassion 
for men. Inasmuch as we partake with the lower animals of bodies 
exquisitely sensitive to pain, and often agonized by it, we should be 
slow to torture creatures who, though not sharers of our joys, or 
participators in our mental agonies, can equal us in bodily suf- 
fering. We stand, by Divine appointment, between God and 
His irresponsible subjects, and are as gods to them." 

May we not say that vivisection is thus contrary alike to the 
justice which regards the rights of animals, and to the mercy which 
has sympathy with the helpless and the suffering ? In the principle 
of the thing, man has no more right to perform painful or injurious 
experiments on animals than on human beings. 

I have said that man's dominion over all living creatures is not 
absolute, but limited by the eternal obligations of justice and mercy. 
It is also to be regarded not merely as a right, but as a trust. On 
this point I quote some sentences from a remarkable speech by the 
great Lord Erskine, when he was trying to induce the Government 
of his day to legislate for the protection of animals from cruelty : — 
" That the dominion of man over the lower world is a moral trust, 
is a proposition which no man living can deny, without denying 


the whole foundation of our duties. If, in the examination of the 
qualities, powers, and instincts of animals, we could discover nothing 
else but their admirable and wonderful construction for man's 
assistance ; if we found no organs in the animals for their own 
gratification and happiness — no sensibility to pain or pleasure — no 
senses analogous, though inferior, to our own — no grateful sense of 
kindness, nor suffering from neglect or injury ; if we discovered, in 
short, nothing but mere animated matter, obviously and exclusively 
subservient to human purposes, it would be difficult to maintain 
that the dominion over them was a trust, in any other sense, at least, 
than to make the best use for ourselves of the property which 
Providence had given us. But it calls for no deep or extended 
skill in natural history to know that the very reverse of this is the 
case, and that God is the benevolent and impartial author of all 
that He has created. For every animal which comes in contact 
with man, and whose powers and qualities and instincts are 
obviously adapted to his use, Nature has taken care to provide, and 
as carefully and bountifully as for man himself, organs and feelings 
for its own enjoyment and happiness."' '" The animals are given 
for our use, but not for our abuse. Their freedom and enjoyments, 
when they cease to be consistent with our just dominion and enjoy- 
ments, can be no part of their natural rights ; but whilst they are 
consistent, their rights, subservient as they are, ought to be as 
sacred as our own." 

Having stated the ethical principles on which the opposition to 
vivisection is founded, and shown that the system is not in harmony 
with the moral government of the world, there remains an import- 
ant practical question as to the moral effects of this mode of 
research. Is not the tendency to harden the operator, and blunt 
his moral sense? And, if so, is not the system injurious, not only 
to those engaged in it, but to the tone and character of the medical 
profession, and to society at large ? 

In examining the question, in its moral and social- bearings, it is 
of no avail to say that some vivisectionists are good and exemp- 
lary, and even tender-hearted men. This is true; and it may be 
also admitted that, in the performance of experiments, they them- 
selves are subjected to much mental distress. Nothing but a high 
sense of duty, and an earnest desire to obtain useful results, could 
induce the medical men of culture and ordinary feeling to engage 


in some of the researches, the mere descriptions of which cannot be 
read without pain and horror. Professor Rolleston, of Oxford, in 
giving his evidence before the Royal Commission, bore testimony, 
from personal intercourse and friendship, as to the amiable char- 
acter of some experimenters. One of these was a joint author of 
the Handbook for the Physiological Laboratory. A very terrible 
experiment was quoted in that book ; and being asked how he 
accounted for any humane person inserting it as an illustration, 
Professor Rolleston said that Dr. Foster had never shown it (the 
experiment on recurrent sensibility), and never seen it himself. 
Asked: "But surely it is put here, in a Handbook, in a mode 
which would encourage the trying of that experiment?" The 
reply was: "Obviously; but I am speaking in vindication of 
the character of my friend, but not at all in vindication of 
the book." Asked : " Then I understood that your opinion 
about the book is, that it is a dangerous book to society, and 
that it has warranted, to some extent, the feeling of anxiety in 
the public which its publication has created?" "I am sorry," 
replied Professor Rolleston, " to have to say that I do think 
that is so." 

Others have shown no reserve at all in defence of everything 
contained in it, and have exhibited a defiance of public opinion too 
plainly arising from callous indifference. That they should be sup- 
ported by men of more gentle and refined nature only proves the 
more strikingly that the tendency of vivisection is to blunt the 
moral sense. It is a law in ethics, that the strength of any motive 
is increased or diminished, according to the habitual exercise of the 
mental emotion brought into play. Sympathy for distress and 
aversion to inflict pain may be naturally strong in the heart of a 
biologist or physician, but may be gradually overpowered and sup- 
pressed by the habitual exercise of other motives, such as zeal for 
science or ambition of scientific fame. Every time these passions 
prevail an increased purchase is gained for their future influence, 
and the heart is hardened as they encroach on the rightful domain 
of sympathy and compassion for poor suffering animals. In other 
persons, the better feeling of possibly rendering good to men by im- 
provements in medicine, represses the immediate emotion of pity ; 
and even humane physicians advocate the most fearful proceedings 
of vivisection. Such is the natural process by which the feelings 


are blunted and the moral sense restrained from protesting against 
the cruelty of vivisection. 

While thus explaining the personal blunting of feeling towards 
animals, in some who may be amiable and kind to their fellow- 
men, no reserve should be maintained in declaring the evil ten- 
dency of the system. To those who possess the large Blue Book, 
with the reports and evidence of the Royal Commission, or who 
have, in other ways, specially become acquainted with the history 
of vivisection, it would be needless to offer proofs on this matter. 
But a large proportion of the medical men of the day know little of 
what has passed in regard to the teaching of physiology in recent 
years. This is a new feature in English medical education. There 
were no physiological laboratories, not even class demonstrations, in 
our student days, at Guy's or St. Bartholomew's ; nor at the Uni- 
versities of Edinburgh or London was the practice of vivisection 
recognized. The altered attitude of the medical press, and of the 
official representatives of the profession, already show signs of 
deterioration of moral and social tone, and there is need for plainly 
showing the influences now at work, and leavening the character 
of the rising race of medical practitioners. 

Dr. George Hoggan published in Fraser's Magazine, for April, 
1875, a statement of what he had witnessed as assistant in the labor- 
atory of one of the most eminent physiologists of France. The 
name is courteously withheld, but it is very well understood to what 
place the reference is made. " In that laboratory," says Dr. Hoggan, 
" we sacrificed daily from one to three dogs, besides rabbits and 
other animals, and after four months' experience, I am of opinion 
that not one of these experiments was justified or necessary. The 
idea of the good of humanity was simply out of the question, and 
would have been laughed at, the great aim being to keep up with, 
or get ahead of, one's contemporaries in science, even at the price of 
an incalculable amount of torture needlessly and iniquitously 
inflicted on the poor animals. 

" During three campaigns I have witnessed many harsh sights, 
but I think the saddest sight I ever witnessed was when the dogs 
were brought up from the cellar to the laboratory for sacrifice. 
Instead of appearing pleased with the change from darkness to 
light, they seemed seized with horror as soon as they smelt the air 
of the place, divining, apparently, their approaching fate. They 


would make friendly advances to each of the three or four persons 
present, and as far as eyes, ears and tail could make a mute appeal 
for mercy eloquent, they tried it in vain. Even when roughly 
graspe:l and thrown down on the torture trough a low complaining 
whine at such treatment would be all the protest made, and they 
would continue to lick the hand which bound them till their mouths 
were fixed in the gag, and they could only flap their tail in the 
trough as their last means of exciting compassion. Often when 
convulsed by the pain of their torture this would be renewed, and 
they would be soothed instantly on receiving a few gentle pats. It 
was all the aid or comfort I could give them, and I gave it often. 
They seemed to take it as an earnest of fellow-feeling, that would 
cause their torture to come to an end — an end only brought by 

" Were the feelings of experimental physiologists not blunted, 
they could not long continue the practice of vivisection. They are 
always ready to repudiate any implied want of tender feeling, but 
I must say that they seldom show much pity; on the contrary, in 
practice they frequently show the reverse. Hundreds of times I 
have seen, when an animal writhed with pain, and thereby deranged 
the tissues, during a delicate dissection, instead of being soothed it 
would receive a slap and an angry order to be quiet and to behave 
itself. At other times, when an animal had endured great pain 
for hours without struggling or giving more than an occasional low 
whine, instead of letting the poor mangled wretch loose to crawl 
painfully about the place in reserve for another day's torture, it 
would receive pity so far that it would be said to have behaved 
well enough to merit death ; and, as a reward, would be killed at 
once by breaking up the medulla with a needle, or ' pithing/ as 
this operation is called. I have heard the Professor say, when one 
side of an animal had been so mangled, and the tissues so obscured 
by clotted blood that it was difficult to find the part searched for, 
' Why don't you begin on the other side ? ' or, ' Why don't you 
take another dog ? ' ' What is the use of being so economical ? ' 

" One of the most revolting features in the laboratory was the 
custom of giving an animal on which the professor had completed 
his experiment, and which had still some life left, to the assistants, 
to practice the finding of arteries, nerves, etc., in the living animal, 
or for performing what are called fundamental experiments upon 


it — in other words, repeating those which are recommended in the 
laboratory handbooks." 

Such was Dr. Hoggan's experience in the laboratory of one 
who was in the first rank in Paris as a physiologist. His words 
are worth repeating. "I am of opinion that not one of those 
experiments on animals was justified or necessary." The wonder 
is how he could have assisted at such scenes of torture, as he calls 
them, for so long a period. It is well that he has now made so 
clear a statement and generous a confession. His evidence may 
serve as a warning as to what is possible in England, if this system 
of research spreads among us. Another English surgeon, visiting 
a French laboratory, describes the conduct of the students, in mim- 
icking the cries and moans of the tortured animals ill derision, as 
so revolting that he quitted the place in disgust. I myself wit- 
nessed, long ago, this " tiger-monkey " spirit in Magendie's class- 
room. Along with the late Edward Forbes, and two or three 
other students from Edinburgh, I tried to learn something from 
Magendie, but we were driven from the place in disgust, shocked, 
not so much by the coarse cruelty of the Professor as by the repul- 
sive heartlessness of the spectators. English students were not in 
those days accustomed to such scenes of horror. The foreign 
teachers know the greater sensitiveness of our countrymen, although 
the honorable distinction seems to be passing away. An English 
student having quitted a well-known German laboratory, unable 
to bear its horrors, the professor said that " he never found 
Englishmen who would stop with him, and he supposed (with a 
sneer) that they thought God would make them suifer the same as 
the animals." 

The experience of the last few years sadly proves how soon and 
how effectually the tone which has distinguished English from 
Continental schools has been lowered. Ten or twelve years ago 
Mr. Fleming, author of the first prize essay published by the 
Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, after describing the 
fearful cruelties daily witnessed at the College of Al fort, the chief 
veterinary training school in France, could say that, "To the 
honor of the veterinary schools of England, vivisection has never 
been allowed in them;" and Mr. Fleming, with just pride, adds, 
" No one will deny that they are as well qualified to undertake the 
management of difficult operations as the vivisectionists." The 


details of the practices at A 1 fort, and also at Lyons, as given by 
Mr. Fleming, form a most ghastly record. The scandal caused by 
these atrocities led to an appeal being made to the late Emperor of 
the French, who referred the matter to a Scientific Commission. 
The practices are, however, continued to the present day, and, we 
grieve to say, have been introduced into this country. Mr. James 
Mills has put on record a fearful account of cruelties which he wit- 
nessed, and in which he took part when attending the Edinburgh 
Veterinary College, but of his share in which he is now heartily 
ashamed. Both veterinary and medical students joined in the 
experiments which Mr. Mills describes He says, " There was no 
other motive than idle curiosity, and heedless, reckless love of 
experimentation. To observe the heart's action a cat was fastened 
down on its back. An incision through the skin of the animal's 
chest extended from the neck to the belly. The skin was then 
laid back by hooks, to enable the operator to cut through the cartil- 
age of the sternum, and to draw his knife across the ribs for the 
purpose of nicking them. The ribs were then snapped, and the 
fractured parts turned back and secured by hooks. No anaesthetic 
was used. On another occasion a horse was bought for the purpose 
of dissection. During a whole week this animal was subjected to 
various operations, such as tenotomy, neurotomy, etc., again with- 
out anaesthetics. In other cases the animals received " brutal 
usage." Mr. Mills exonerates the professors from participation in 
the experiments, most of which were performed in the students' 
lodgings ; but the Principal must have known of the horse being 
experimented on within the walls of the College. It is not sur- 
prising that Dr. Haughton, of Dublin, in his evidence before the 
Commission, said : " I would shrink with horror from accustoming 
large classes of young men to the sight of animals under vivisection. 
I believe that many of them would become cruel and hardened, and 
would go away and repeat those experiments recklessly. Science 
would gain nothing, and the world would have let loose upon it a set 
of devils." 

Dr. Acland, of Oxford, said, in his evidence, that many persons 
are now engaged in the pursuit of vivisection in this country, not 
for a humane purpose, but for acquiring abstract knowledge. This 
desire of mere discovery has a dangerous and mischievous tendency. 
" So many persons have got to deal with those wonderful and beau- 


ti ful organisms just as they deal with physical bodies that have no 
feeling and consciousness." Dr. Acland said this could not be done 
without being so hurtful to the moral sense of England that it 
would not be endured if carried to the same extent as abroad. 
Surely an effort must be made to prevent our English schools of 
medicine being- degraded to the Continental level. 

Much has been said about the evidence of Dr. Klein, Director of 
the Brown Institution, and Lecturer on Histology at the Medical 
School of St. Bartholomew's Hospital. He certainly made some 
candid and strange admissions as to the cruelties alleged to have 
taken place in his researches. He said that a physiologist could 
not be expected to devote time and thought to inquiring what the 
animal feels while he is doing the experiment. He "uses anaesthe- 
tics only for convenience sake,, in dogs and cats, and for no other 
animals as a general rule." Dr. Klein must not be too severely 
judged. His training has been different from that of most English- 
men ; and he never knew in Vienna, where he formerly practiced, 
any of the hostility to vivisection which is common in this country 
on the part of the general public, though not of physiologists. 

But Dr. Klein's statements lead us to view with dark foreboding 
the avowed opinions of some of our leading professors and public 
teachers, as when Dr. Burdon-Sanderson says he "wishes to see 
the type of education here more like the type of education in Ger- 
many." Dr. Gamgee, of Manchester, also praises highly the pro- 
ceedings of Dr. Ludwig, of Leipsic, who has been the teacher of 
nearly all the physiologists of Europe, and has indoctrinated nearly 
the whole of them in the methods of physiological inquiry. These 
expressions of opinion, from prominent and representative men, and 
still more, the reported proceedings of the General Medical Council 
and of the British Medical Association, in reference to legislation 
on the subject, give rise to sad forebodings for the future. The 
new generations of medical men, trained under such influences, 
although few of them may have been personally engaged in experi- 
ments, must become degraded in moral and social tone, and the 
whole status of the profession will thereby be affected. 

Foolish things may have been said, and extreme views held by 
those who advocate the total abolition, or suppression by law, of 
experiments on living animals. Even those who most wish this 
can scarcely hope to see their wish realized. But I do not despair 


to see such a change in the general opinion of the profession regard- 
ing such experiments as will render them of rare and exceptional 
occurrence. Apart from any ignorant clamor there is a strong 
public feeling as to the cruelties of vivisection. Sir Arthur Helps 
gave expression to the feeling prevalent among men of culture in all 
professions, when he said that " any man known to have practiced 
needless cruelties on animals should be placed under a social ban." 
It is very certain that the status of the profession may be lowered 
by being associated in the public mind with vivisection. There 
are already signs of this, and many medical men would rejoice to 
see their profession delivered from the opprobrium that has come 
upon it in consequence of this practice. This can be done only by 
showing that sound science is on the side of humanity on this 
question. So far from vivisection having aided in the advancement 
of the healing art, many testimonies confirm the saying of Sir 
Charles Bell, that " it has done more to perpetuate error than to add 
to sound knowledge." At all events the advantages of such experi- 
ments have been vastly overrated, and their disadvantages not duly 
considered. The question is not whether any results are obtained 
from this source, but whether they are worth the price paid for 
them. That knowledge is dear which is purchased at the expense 
of humanity. These experiments involve much suffering and 
wrong, afford very meagre and doubtful results for practical use, 
and withdraw attention from sounder methods of research. They 
are neither scientifically valuable, nor morally justifiable.